\ ˈē-vəl How to pronounce evil (audio) , British often and US sometimes ˈē-(ˌ)vil\
eviler or eviller; evilest or evillest

Definition of evil

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : morally reprehensible : sinful, wicked an evil impulse
b : arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct a person of evil reputation
2a archaic : inferior
b : causing discomfort or repulsion : offensive an evil odor
c : disagreeable woke late and in an evil temper
3a : causing harm : pernicious the evil institution of slavery
b : marked by misfortune : unlucky

evil

noun

Definition of evil (Entry 2 of 3)

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

evil

adverb

Definition of evil (Entry 3 of 3)

archaic
: in an evil manner

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Other Words from evil

Adjective

evilly \ ˈē-​və(l)-​lē How to pronounce evilly (audio) , British often and US sometimes  ˈē-​(ˌ)vi(l)-​ \ adverb
evilness \ ˈē-​vəl-​nəs How to pronounce evilness (audio) , British often and US sometimes  ˈē-​(ˌ)vil-​ \ noun

Examples of evil in a Sentence

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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective But remember: Bose–Einstein condensates are not evil. Thilo Stöferle, Ars Technica, "The science of Spectral: Is that really how Bose–Einstein condensate behaves?," 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, "'The Magic Flute' a surreal visual extravaganza," 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, "Discussion," 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, "Making magic with an animated 'Magic Flute'," 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, "Doctor Who review: Time tumbles out of control in The Doctor Falls," 3 July 2017 Well, not evil, really, but more bureaucratic, legalistic b.s. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "Data Sheet—Friday, June 30, 2017," 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, "24 things for your San Diego summer-must list," 15 June 2017 Here, Goron is summoned by his king to fight evil forces threatening their kingdom. Redbook, "This Family Wins Birthdays With Their Game of Thrones Photo Shoot," 10 May 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun What The Kingmaker doesn't do is fully explore the evil and murderousness of the regime. Todd Mccarthy, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Kingmaker': Film Review | Venice 2019," 31 Aug. 2019 This group is for those who wish to speak out about the evils of Islam. oregonlive, "Portland cop’s past membership in extremist Facebook groups raises questions about how to track offensive social media use," 29 Aug. 2019 Merely having this conversation could lead to healing long standing wounds caused by the evil of slavery. Daniela Altimari, courant.com, "Reparations for slavery emerge as issue among Democrats running for president," 8 Aug. 2019 And there are the story missions, where your students get to apply those skills fighting evils both ancient and new. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "Fire Emblem: Three Houses is secretly the best Harry Potter game," 26 July 2019 Locally, the civil government should punish evil and protect the good. Leah Sottile, Longreads, "Chapter Five: The Remnant," 20 July 2019 Despite all that, the vast majority of today’s Muslim thinkers share the modern view that slavery is an absolute evil, whose abolition is to be welcomed. The Economist, "Everywhere in chains," 27 Aug. 2019 With all that is at stake, a recession just may be the lesser evil — and, ironically, Trump’s trade war may be the match that starts the fire. Larry Edelman, BostonGlobe.com, "Trump knows he’s vulnerable to a recession — and it could kill his 2020 chances," 8 Aug. 2019 The book tour and its concomitant responsibilities are necessary evils to sell books. Sarah Menkedick, Longreads, "The First Book," 24 July 2019

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.

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First Known Use of evil

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

History and Etymology for evil

Adjective

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

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Statistics for evil

Time Traveler for evil

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

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More Definitions for evil

How to pronounce evil (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of evil

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: morally bad
: causing harm or injury to someone
: marked by bad luck or bad events

evil

noun

English Language Learners Definition of evil (Entry 2 of 2)

: the force of things that are morally bad
: something that is harmful or bad
\ ˈē-vəl How to pronounce evil (audio) \

Kids Definition of evil

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

evil

noun

Kids Definition of evil (Entry 2 of 2)

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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More from Merriam-Webster on evil

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for evil

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with evil

Spanish Central: Translation of evil

Nglish: Translation of evil for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of evil for Arabic Speakers

Comments on evil

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