evil

1 of 3

adjective

ˈē-vəl How to pronounce evil (audio)
 British often and US sometimes  ˈē-(ˌ)vil
eviler or eviller; evilest or evillest
1
a
: morally reprehensible : sinful, wicked
an evil impulse
b
: arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct
a person of evil reputation
2
a
archaic : inferior
b
: causing discomfort or repulsion : offensive
an evil odor
c
: disagreeable
woke late and in an evil temper
3
a
: causing harm : pernicious
the evil institution of slavery
b
: marked by misfortune : unlucky
evilly
ˈē-və(l)-lē How to pronounce evil (audio)
 British often and US sometimes  ˈē-(ˌ)vi(l)-
adverb
evilness
ˈē-vəl-nəs How to pronounce evil (audio)
 British often and US sometimes  ˈē-(ˌ)vil-
noun

evil

2 of 3

noun

1
a
: the fact of suffering, misfortune, and wrongdoing
b
: a cosmic evil force
2
: something that brings sorrow, distress, or calamity

evil

3 of 3

adverb

archaic
: in an evil manner

Example Sentences

Adjective She drank an evil potion. The city has fallen on evil days. It was an evil omen. Noun the battle of good versus evil our free will allows us to choose between good and evil
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
But remember: Bose–Einstein condensates are not evil. Thilo Stöferle, Ars Technica, 18 July 2017 John Robert Lindsey made a properly evil Monostatos (a dead ringer for the vampire Nosferatu), accompanied by terrifying dogs rather than slaves. Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati.com, 16 July 2017 The Nazis and the Holocaust truly show the entire scope of humanity, at its most evil and its most resilient. The Editors, Smithsonian, 2 May 2017 Pamina has the short bob hairdo of flapper-era star Louise Brooks, the birdcatcher is a Buster Keaton-style Papageno and the evil Monostatos reminds of Nosferatu. Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati.com, 6 July 2017 The Master's return isn't blockbuster enough for me, even with the good versus evil Superman III undertones in his cheeky exchanges with Missy. Kelly Fiveash, Ars Technica, 3 July 2017 Well, not evil, really, but more bureaucratic, legalistic b.s. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, 30 June 2017 The show unites Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and Iron Fist (Finn Jones) to battle the Hand, a band of evil mystical ninjas. Pacific, Pacific San Diego Magazine, 15 June 2017 Here, Goron is summoned by his king to fight evil forces threatening their kingdom. Redbook, 10 May 2017
Noun
The film frames Michael (Tyler Mane and Daeg Faerch) as both victim and perpetrator in a cycle of violent trauma — a product of his environment rather than a natural force of evil. Wesley Stenzel, EW.com, 9 Nov. 2022 For those of you unfortunate enough to have missed it, Sailor Moon and her fellow Sailor-Soldiers defended Earth from the forces of evil on TV between the years of 1992 and 1997. Kathleen Walsh, Glamour, 30 Oct. 2022 There was shock at the audacity of evil, and gratitude for the heroism and decency that opposed it. Jon Meacham, Town & Country, 30 Oct. 2022 For most Germans today, the Ukraine war is a clear war of good against evil, yet public opinion is divided on whether Germany is doing too much, too little, or just enough to assist Ukraine. Lenora Chu, The Christian Science Monitor, 28 Oct. 2022 Without getting into good/evil here, since this is a conversation about business choices by a large company, the allegedly huge launch swings both ways. Scott Mendelson, Forbes, 5 Oct. 2022 Like previous teasers, this new clip is largely centered around the elf Galadriel (Morfydd Clark), who takes up her brother’s fight against evil after his untimely death. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 23 Aug. 2022 In Pope Francis’ view, the war in Ukraine isn’t a straightforward case of good against evil. Francis X. Rocca, WSJ, 23 June 2022 In Stranger Things 4, music plays an important role in the battle against a new evil from the Upside Down. Erica Gonzales, ELLE, 29 May 2022 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English, from Old English yfel; akin to Old High German ubil evil

First Known Use

Adjective

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adverb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near evil

Cite this Entry

“Evil.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/evil. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

evil 1 of 2

adjective

eviler or eviller; evilest or evillest
1
: morally bad : wicked
2
a
: causing harm : tending to injure
b
: marked by misfortune
evil days
evilly adverb

evil

2 of 2

noun

1
: something that brings sorrow, trouble, or destruction
2
: the fact of suffering or wrongdoing

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