vil·​lain ˈvi-lən How to pronounce villain (audio)
: a character in a story or play who opposes the hero
: a deliberate scoundrel or criminal
: one blamed for a particular evil or difficulty
automation as the villain in job … displacementM. H. Goldberg
: an uncouth person : boor

Example Sentences

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Kylie pulls up in a Disney villain-esque plunging velvet gown. Hannah Oh, Seventeen, 4 Jan. 2023 To play figure-skating villain Tonya Harding in I, Tonya (2017), Robbie inhabited the identity of a pitbull. Andrea Marks, Rolling Stone, 2 Jan. 2023 Like any actor playing a memorable villain, Billy Zane gets most of the best lines in Titanic. Matthew Jacobs, Vulture, 19 Dec. 2022 Namor, the brown antihero of the film, is no shallow villain. Los Angeles Times, 27 Dec. 2022 One of the reasons why is that an old villain has turned up to save the day. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, 23 Dec. 2022 This villain could always appear in a prequel to Thunderbolts. Chris Smith, BGR, 22 Dec. 2022 Sure, the first of the Kingsman franchise, The Secret Service, was a joy in itself with its killer action scenes and Samuel L. Jackson playing against type as a nerdy villain. Jessica Sager, Peoplemag, 21 Dec. 2022 Per Dawko, they’ll be joined in the cast by Mary Stuart Masterson as an unnamed villain and Piper Rubio as Mike’s younger sister, Abby. Vulture, 18 Dec. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

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

Dictionary Entries Near villain

Cite this Entry

“Villain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


vil·​lain ˈvil-ən How to pronounce villain (audio)
: an evil person : scoundrel
: a character in a story or play who opposes the hero

More from Merriam-Webster on villain

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