evil

adjective
\ ˈē-vəl How to pronounce evil (audio) , British often and US sometimes ˈē-(ˌ)vil \
eviler or eviller; evilest or evillest

Definition of evil

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : morally reprehensible : sinful, wicked an evil impulse
b : arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct a person of evil reputation
2a archaic : inferior
b : causing discomfort or repulsion : offensive an evil odor
c : disagreeable woke late and in an evil temper
3a : causing harm : pernicious the evil institution of slavery
b : marked by misfortune : unlucky

evil

noun

Definition of evil (Entry 2 of 3)

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

evil

adverb

Definition of evil (Entry 3 of 3)

archaic
: in an evil manner

Other Words from evil

Adjective

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

Examples of evil in a Sentence

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 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun So being kind of caught between a rock and a hard place, your castle or the root of all evil. Dawn Burkes, Los Angeles Times, 29 July 2022 But with a public figure who publicly and obstinately persists in promoting grave evil, the matter is laid bare for all to see, adding scandal and confusion of the faithful to the weight of the sin. WSJ, 27 July 2022 The pleasure of watching dirtbaggery also derives from its depiction of idiocy without evil. Adrienne Matei, The Atlantic, 26 July 2022 At school, evil Miss Trunchbull makes most days miserable. Leah Campano, Seventeen, 25 July 2022 YouTube/Paramount He and his band of thieves stole the wrong artifact and unleashed a great evil on the world. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 22 July 2022 The series is set thousands of years before Peter Jackson’s films and centers on the rings of power that allowed the Dark Lord Sauron to spread evil across Middle-earth. Aaron Couch, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 July 2022 The elves have founded the great kingdom of Lindon, but some fear that evil is creeping back into Middle-earth. Devan Coggan, EW.com, 14 July 2022 In a new trailer for the upcoming TV epic, set thousands of years before the original series, a younger Galadriel senses that evil is encroaching on Middle-Earth. Scottie Andrew, CNN, 14 July 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.

First Known Use of evil

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

History and Etymology for evil

Adjective

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

Learn More About evil

Time Traveler for evil

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near evil

evidentness

evil

evildoer

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for evil

Cite this Entry

“Evil.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/evil. Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for evil

evil

adjective
\ ˈē-vəl How to pronounce evil (audio) \

Kids Definition of evil

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : morally bad : wicked an evil influence
2 : causing harm : tending to injure an evil spell

evil

noun

Kids Definition of evil (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something that brings sorrow, trouble, or destruction the evils of poverty
2 : the fact of suffering or wrongdoing We must rid the world of evil.
3 : bad behavior or moral state : wickedness … Mr. Lapham had discovered the evil that had gone on in his absence …— Esther Forbes, Johnny Tremain

More from Merriam-Webster on evil

Nglish: Translation of evil for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of evil for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!