1 of 3

noun (1)

: a source of harm or ruin : curse
national frontiers have been more of a bane than a boon for mankindD. C. Thomson
: death, destruction
… stop the way of those that seek my banePhilip Sidney
: woe
: poison
obsolete : killer, slayer


2 of 3


baned; baning

transitive verb

: to kill especially with poison


3 of 3

noun (2)

chiefly Scotland
: bone

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web
The hands-on approach also promotes healthy blood flow in the skin and decreases inflammation, which can be linked to breakouts, dullness, and the bane of my camera roll: redness. Sarah Carr, Allure, 26 Feb. 2023 Biased samples are the bane of epidemiology, including the epidemiology of economic phenomena. George Calhoun, Forbes, 5 Feb. 2023 Procrastination is the bane of students and writers, as well as plenty of other people who work on long timelines. Avery Hurt, Discover Magazine, 20 Dec. 2022 Red squirrels, the bane of most birders, will thrive on almost everything and are interesting critters on their own hook. John Schandelmeier, Anchorage Daily News, 12 Nov. 2022 Many of the new species also don’t have natural predators, and the solution being proposed is one that has traditionally been the bane of marine life: overfishing, and giving the Lebanese a taste for these interlopers. Sarah Dadouch, Washington Post, 8 Sep. 2022 Other bills focus on waste generated by batteries, electronics and wine and spirits bottles, the mercury found in some fluorescent bulbs and single-use propane canisters — the bane of campgrounds across the state. Tribune News Service, oregonlive, 5 Sep. 2022 Fleas, the pinhead sized bane of pets and pet owners alike, begin spreading into households across Indiana from mid to late summer. Karl Schneider, The Indianapolis Star, 12 July 2022 Winckowski does throw a slider, the bane of Báez ’s existence this season. Ryan Ford, Detroit Free Press, 20 June 2022 See More

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

Word History


Noun (1)

Middle English, "killer, agent of death, death," going back to Old English bana "killer, agent of death," going back to Germanic *banan- (whence also Old Frisian bana, bona "killer," Old High German bano "killer, murderer," Old Norse bani "murderer, violent death"), of uncertain origin

Note: Another Germanic derivative from the same base is represented by Old English benn (feminine strong noun) "wound, sore," Old Saxon beniwunda, Old Norse ben "wound," Gothic banja "blow, wound." Attempts have been made to derive the etymon from Indo-European *gwhen- "strike, kill" (see defend), but the general view is that initial *gwh could not yield b in Germanic.


derivative of bane entry 1

Noun (2)

early Scots and northern Middle English ban, bane, going back to Old English bān — more at bone entry 1

First Known Use

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2d


1578, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1578, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bane was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near bane

Cite this Entry

“Bane.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a source of harm, ruin, or unhappiness
greed is the bane of humanity

Medical Definition


: poison see henbane

More from Merriam-Webster on bane

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