\ 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 Not to excuse the violence, which is pure evil and must be stopped, but the guns are being wielded by poor hands, and almost 1.7 million New Yorkers live below the poverty line (with many more threateningly near it). Michael Toscano, National Review, "The 9/11 Tribute in Light Emphasizes Bill de Blasio’s Failure," 3 Sep. 2020 There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil. The Rev. Bill Thomas, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Thomas: Even during this pandemic, we must make the most of our time | RELIGION COMMENTARY," 29 Aug. 2020 But all this, even, is not the full extent of the evil. Star Tribune, "Abraham Lincoln: America's greatest danger is the 'mobocratic spirit'," 28 Aug. 2020 An amorphous enemy looms: a big blob of evil that incorporates all of the systematic ways that New Yorkers are kept down, from white supremacy to police brutality. Maris Kreizman, WSJ, "The Sci-Fi Novel That Foretold A Pandemic of Systemic Racism," 18 Aug. 2020 People won’t stop abusing his library’s knowledge for evil. Rachel Yang, EW.com, "Here are 8 Avatar: The Last Airbender characters that appear in The Legend of Korra," 14 Aug. 2020 There’s something to be said about the inevitability of change and the inevitability in any historical moment of the battle between good and evil. Candace Mcduffie, The Christian Science Monitor, "The problem with the word ‘suffrage’: It excludes Black women activists," 5 Aug. 2020 Some of them called slavery an evil, but not a necessary one. Sean Wilentz, The New York Review of Books, "What Tom Cotton Gets So Wrong About Slavery and the Constitution," 3 Aug. 2020 Per the official premise: Caught in the middle of an ancient war between good and evil, a young girl wakes up in a morgue with inexplicable powers. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Review: Fierce and fun Warrior Nun is a perfect Fourth of July binge-watch," 3 July 2020

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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Time Traveler for evil

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for evil

Cite this Entry

“Evil.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/evil. Accessed 18 Sep. 2020.

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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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Comments on evil

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