evil

adjective
\ 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

How did a mainstay of children’s birthday parties start to become an embodiment of pure evil? Frank T. Mcandrew, Quartzy, "The psychology behind why we find clowns so creepy," 6 Sep. 2019 The book, out this week, traces Kalanick’s trajectory from floundering startup founder to the envy of Silicon Valley to the epitome of tech evil, and with him a decade of excess and self-delusion. Wired, "WIRED Book of the Month: Super Pumped by Mike Isaac," 3 Sep. 2019 If the early movies preached that evil isn't destiny, the welcome point is being good isn't either. Brian Lowry, CNN, "'Descendants 3' sees its musical magic starting to fade," 2 Aug. 2019 Its real mission is to communicate the lesson that, unique as the Holocaust was in scale, the evil that brought it about lurks in the psyche of humans in groups, and may not be visible from the outset. Michael Hiltzik, latimes.com, "The U.S. Holocaust Museum is wrong to deny that Trump’s racism resembles Nazism," 15 July 2019 Andrea Perron, the oldest of the five Perron daughters who lived in the home until 1980, still stands by her claim that evil spirits lived in the house with the family in an interview with USA Today. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "A Couple Bought the Home that Inspired "The Conjuring" and They Say Weird Things Keep Happening," 10 July 2019 Beauvoir believes at the core of good people, there is a streak of evil. Denise Davidsonwriter, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Louise Penny’s ‘A Better Man': Of forks in the road and life-changing decisions," 25 Aug. 2019 Moral and emotional words (such as lewd, kill, evil, faith and sin) were the most captivating. Jay Van Bavel, Scientific American, "Why Moral Emotions Go Viral Online," 20 Aug. 2019 In the exclusive trailer, Twilight and her friends appear to be facing one final battle to save their beloved kingdom from forces of evil. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "Exclusive: See the trailer for the final episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic," 2 Aug. 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

Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for evil

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

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More Definitions for evil

evil

adjective

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

evil

adjective
\ 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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with evil

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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