vil·​lain | \ ˈvi-lən How to pronounce villain (audio) \

Definition of villain

1 : a character in a story or play who opposes the hero
2 : a deliberate scoundrel or criminal
3 : one blamed for a particular evil or difficulty automation as the villain in job … displacement— M. H. Goldberg
4 : villein
5 : an uncouth person : boor

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of villain in a Sentence

He plays the villain in most of his movies. She describes her first husband as a villain who treated her terribly. Don't try to make me the villain. It's your own fault that you're having these problems.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

There were rumors that it might be called Shatterhand, an alias that classic Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld once used in the novel You Only Live Twice, but producers shot that down. Andrew Daniels, Popular Mechanics, "Bond 25: Everything We Know About the New James Bond Movie," 25 Apr. 2019 Each villain has her very own themed lipstick bullet — think deep magenta for Maleficent, dark plum for Ursula, and more. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "ColourPop's New Disney Villains Makeup Collection Is the Badass Collab You've Been Waiting For," 20 Mar. 2019 Jon Huertas knows this, and gets why his character is seen as the villain of the NBC hit drama. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Jon Huertas Has a Message for All the Miguel Haters Out There," 19 Mar. 2019 In Aquaman’s credits scene, Black Manta is saved and gets some help In the film, Black Manta is treated as a secondary villain to King Orm. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Aquaman’s post-credits scene, explained," 21 Dec. 2018 In addition to replacing Li Shang with a new love interest, Chen Honghui, played by Yoson An, the film will also feature a witch as a villain and a pair of con-artists. Emily Wang, Glamour, "Here's Your Epic First Look at the Mulan Live-Action Remake," 13 Aug. 2018 There is not a great deal of depth to Alexandria King’s Antigone or Ty Jones’s Creon, who comes across mainly as a standard villain. Laura Collins-hughes, New York Times, "Review: ‘Antigone’ Asserts Whose Lives Matter, With Modern Relevance," 9 July 2018 Soprano Heidi Stober made a radiant Esther, Sarah Gartshore sang well as the second Israelite and Christopheren Nomura raged fearsomely as the villain Haman. John Von Rhein,, "Yo-Yo Ma and friends prove their mastery in Brahms; MOB ventures rare Handel oratorio," 28 Feb. 2018 Of course, Fred could be killed off, a victim of Hiram Lodge, Gladys Jones, the Gargoyle King, or one of the many other villains on the show. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "What Will Happen to "Riverdale" Following Luke Perry's Death?," 4 Mar. 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of villain

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

History and Etymology for villain

Middle English vilain, vilein, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin villanus, from Latin villa

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about villain

Statistics for villain

Last Updated

16 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for villain

The first known use of villain was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for villain



English Language Learners Definition of villain

: a character in a story, movie, etc., who does bad things
somewhat old-fashioned : a person who does bad things
: someone or something that is blamed for a particular problem or difficulty


vil·​lain | \ ˈvi-lən How to pronounce villain (audio) \

Kids Definition of villain

1 : a wicked person
2 : a character in a story or play who opposes the hero or heroine

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on villain

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with villain

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for villain

Spanish Central: Translation of villain

Nglish: Translation of villain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of villain for Arabic Speakers

Comments on villain

What made you want to look up villain? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a strong desire or propensity

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!