vil·lainy | \ˈvi-lə-nē \
plural villainies

Definition of villainy 

1 : villainous conduct also : a villainous act

2 : the quality or state of being villainous : depravity

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Synonyms & Antonyms for villainy


bad, evil, evildoing, ill, immorality, iniquity, sin, wrong


good, morality, right, virtue

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Examples of villainy in a Sentence

a story of villainy and betrayal the gruesome villainies of war

Recent Examples on the Web

Sorrento’s villainy sets up a battle on two fronts — clashes in the Oasis mirroring chases through the streets of Columbus — that inspires Mr. Spielberg to feats of crosscutting virtuosity. A. O. Scott, New York Times, "Review: In ‘Ready Player One,’ Spielberg Plays the Nostalgia Game," 28 Mar. 2018 But for every clever element, there's another that feels strange or over-the-top, such as the female casting director who for sheer villainy would give Cruella de Vil a run for her money. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Los Angeles Overnight': Film Review," 9 Mar. 2018 WorryFree reads as cartoonish, but the heart of its villainy—anti-unionism in favor of efficiency, selling regardless of the client’s morality, innovating without weighing the costs—is strikingly recognizable. Joseph Bien-kahn, WIRED, "Radical As Ever, Boots Riley Takes On the Tech Boom," 4 July 2018 Garden-variety villainy is afoot in the absence of a majestic villain like Darth Vader. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Review: The Force Is Half-Awake," 22 May 2018 Joining the cast is a gruff Laurence Fishburne as an old partner of Hank’s and Walton Goggins as a small-time criminal, but this isn’t really a film where villainy is a focus. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Ant-Man and the Wasp," 5 July 2018 And that’s even reflected in how the show reveals his villainy — not through the eyes of Syd, but through the eyes of David, who experiences it as a twist. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "How Legion’s season 2 finale exposed the emptiness at the show’s core," 17 June 2018 But everyone loves an underdog, even if said underdog is from a country that seemingly is trying to replicate its cartoonish Cold War villainy. Matt Bonesteel,, "The U.S. is missing, so here's one reason to watch every World Cup team," 14 June 2018 In the Hulu drama’s first season, Commander Waterford’s wife, played with exceptional nuance by Yvonne Strahovski, displayed glimmers of humanity—but none that overshadowed her overt villainy. Laura Bradley, HWD, "Has Serena Joy Become The Handmaid’s Tale’s Most Poignant Character?," 13 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'villainy.' 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 villainy

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for villainy

Last Updated

22 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for villainy

The first known use of villainy was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for villainy



English Language Learners Definition of villainy

: evil behavior or actions


vil·lainy | \ˈvi-lə-nē \
plural villainies

Kids Definition of villainy

: bad or evil behavior or actions

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More from Merriam-Webster on villainy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for villainy

Spanish Central: Translation of villainy

Nglish: Translation of villainy for Spanish Speakers

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lying above or upon

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