1

evil

adjective \ ˈē-vəl , British often and US sometimes ˈē-(ˌ)vil \
Updated on: 11 Sep 2017

Definition of evil

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

evil

adverb, archaic

evilly

play \ˈē-və(l)-lē, British often and US sometimes ˈē-(ˌ)vi(l)-\ adverb

evilness

play \ˈē-vəl-nəs, British often and US sometimes ˈē-(ˌ)vil-\ noun

Examples of evil in a Sentence

  1. She drank an evil potion.

  2. The city has fallen on evil days.

  3. It was an evil omen.

Recent Examples of evil from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of evil

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


2

evil

noun

Definition of evil

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

Examples of evil in a Sentence

  1. the battle of good versus evil

  2. our free will allows us to choose between good and evil

Recent Examples of evil from the Web

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.


3

evil

adverb

Definition of evil

archaic
:in an evil manner


EVIL Defined for English Language Learners

evil

adjective

Definition of evil for English Language Learners

  • : morally bad

  • : causing harm or injury to someone

  • : marked by bad luck or bad events


evil

noun

Definition of evil for English Language Learners

  • : the force of things that are morally bad

  • : something that is harmful or bad


EVIL Defined for Kids

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evil

adjective \ ˈē-vəl \

Definition of evil for Students

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

Headscratcher for evil

Evil and “vile” are spelled using the same letters and also have similar meanings. They can both be used to describe something or someone wicked.


2

evil

noun

Definition of evil for Students

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


Seen and Heard

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