vil·​lainy ˈvi-lə-nē How to pronounce villainy (audio)
plural villainies
: villainous conduct
also : a villainous act
: the quality or state of being villainous : depravity

Examples of villainy in a Sentence

a story of villainy and betrayal the gruesome villainies of war
Recent Examples on the Web Coriolanus, portrayed in the original series by Donald Sutherland, comes into his villainy over the course of this entry. Emily Zemler, Condé Nast Traveler, 17 Nov. 2023 Head writers Michael Waldron (for Season 1) and Eric Martin (for Season 2), in partnership with lead directors Kate Herron (Season 1) and Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (Season 2), have deconstructed Loki as both an archetype of villainy and a flesh-and-blood person who just happens to be a god. Adam B. Vary, Variety, 13 Nov. 2023 Sanders, who was an Uncle Vanya for our time, sinks his teeth into the thunderous villainy of Cotchipee. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 6 Oct. 2023 September 30, 2023, 8 AM ET Hollywood’s biggest horror franchises have lately been lacking in all-star villainy. David Sims, The Atlantic, 30 Sep. 2023 Their duel turns the movie into a kind of Nordic western with old-fashioned pleasures: romance; villainy; adventure; heroism; a bloody, gripping climax; and loads of gorgeous widescreen vistas along the way. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, 13 Sep. 2023 The actress balances the strength of a woman who has dedicated her life to something heroic without softening the very real villainy that comes from her desire to do the right thing. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 Aug. 2023 And trans villainy is, right now, not an option in pop culture: The struggle for acceptance remains too imperiled for anyone to be glib or ironic about goals like positive representation. Mark Harris, New York Times, 17 Aug. 2023 To be specific, this is gay male villainy — lesbians and bisexuals, long underrepresented in a world of pop culture still dominated by male creators, are insufficiently ubiquitous in movies and TV to be reframed as fun bad guys. Mark Harris, New York Times, 17 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'villainy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near villainy

Cite this Entry

“Villainy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


vil·​lainy ˈvil-ə-nē How to pronounce villainy (audio)
plural villainies
: conduct or actions of or typical of a villain

More from Merriam-Webster on villainy

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