evil

1 of 3

adjective

ˈē-vəl How to pronounce evil (audio)
 British often and US sometimes  ˈē-(ˌ)vil
eviler or eviller; evilest or evillest
1
a
: morally reprehensible : sinful, wicked
an evil impulse
b
: arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct
a person of evil reputation
2
a
archaic : inferior
b
: causing discomfort or repulsion : offensive
an evil odor
c
: disagreeable
woke late and in an evil temper
3
a
: causing harm : pernicious
the evil institution of slavery
b
: marked by misfortune : unlucky
evilly
ˈē-və(l)-lē How to pronounce evil (audio)
 British often and US sometimes  ˈē-(ˌ)vi(l)-
adverb
evilness
ˈē-vəl-nəs How to pronounce evil (audio)
 British often and US sometimes  ˈē-(ˌ)vil-
noun

evil

2 of 3

noun

1
a
: the fact of suffering, misfortune, and wrongdoing
b
: a cosmic evil force
2
: something that brings sorrow, distress, or calamity

evil

3 of 3

adverb

archaic
: in an evil manner

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Example Sentences

Adjective She drank an evil potion. The city has fallen on evil days. It was an evil omen. Noun the battle of good versus evil our free will allows us to choose between good and evil
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
But remember: Bose–Einstein condensates are not evil. Thilo Stöferle, Ars Technica, 18 July 2017 John Robert Lindsey made a properly evil Monostatos (a dead ringer for the vampire Nosferatu), accompanied by terrifying dogs rather than slaves. Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati.com, 16 July 2017 The Nazis and the Holocaust truly show the entire scope of humanity, at its most evil and its most resilient. The Editors, Smithsonian, 2 May 2017 Pamina has the short bob hairdo of flapper-era star Louise Brooks, the birdcatcher is a Buster Keaton-style Papageno and the evil Monostatos reminds of Nosferatu. Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati.com, 6 July 2017 The Master's return isn't blockbuster enough for me, even with the good versus evil Superman III undertones in his cheeky exchanges with Missy. Kelly Fiveash, Ars Technica, 3 July 2017 Well, not evil, really, but more bureaucratic, legalistic b.s. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, 30 June 2017 The show unites Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and Iron Fist (Finn Jones) to battle the Hand, a band of evil mystical ninjas. Pacific, Pacific San Diego Magazine, 15 June 2017 Here, Goron is summoned by his king to fight evil forces threatening their kingdom. Redbook, 10 May 2017
Noun
This exploration of the mundane evil of innovation for its own sake is worth putting the outside world aside, however briefly. Alex Galbraith, EW.com, 14 Sep. 2022 All who entered the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz between the spring of 1943 and January 1945 observed, and all too often suffered, the evil that lurked inside SS Captain Dr. Josef Mengele (1911-1979). Diane Cole, Washington Post, 18 Aug. 2022 There is no worse soulful pain than recognizing the evil of one’s actions but not being able to stop – having become so accustomed to committing this sin (Biur, Deuteronomy 4:28). Rabbi Avi Weiss, Sun Sentinel, 8 Aug. 2022 You guys fold, the evil just moves fast down underneath you all. Amanda Kaufman, BostonGlobe.com, 12 July 2022 The allure of the lesser evil gave a group of Democratic women a fleeting moral quandary when Britt asked them to stand with her against her more extremist primary opponents. Diane Mcwhorter, CNN, 6 July 2022 In many cases, the customer service (CS) function is explicitly viewed as a cost center, perceived as only generating expensive overheads and dealing with the necessary evil of customer inquiries and complaints. Mads Fosselius, Forbes, 5 July 2022 The evil of the human being comes from this, from this capacity of self-destruction and of conquest and of wanting to conquer new territories and economic interests. Holly Jones, Variety, 13 June 2022 The crew discover the cabal of foes coalescing to bring down the Power of Three are actually working for an ancient evil that’s been laying dormant since the dawn of magic. Rodney Ho, ajc, 6 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'evil.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English, from Old English yfel; akin to Old High German ubil evil

First Known Use

Adjective

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adverb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of evil was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near evil

Cite this Entry

“Evil.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/evil. Accessed 24 Sep. 2022.

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Kids Definition

evil 1 of 2

adjective

1
: morally bad : wicked
an evil influence
2
: causing harm : tending to injure
an evil spell

evil

2 of 2

noun

1
: something that brings sorrow, trouble, or destruction
the evils of poverty
2
: the fact of suffering or wrongdoing
We must rid the world of evil.
3
: bad behavior or moral state : wickedness
… Mr. Lapham had discovered the evil that had gone on in his absence … Esther Forbes, Johnny Tremain

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