• enPR ē-vəl, IPA: /ˈiːvɪl/, /ˈiːvəl/
  • (GA) IPA: /ˈivəl/

evil (comparative eviller, superlative evillest)

  1. Intending to harm; malevolent.
    an evil plot to kill innocent people
    • 1866, Elizabeth Gaskell, Wives and Daughters, Chapter 47,
      For a good while the Miss Brownings were kept in ignorance of the evil tongues that whispered hard words about Molly.
    • 1916, Zane Grey, The Border Legion, New York: Harper & Bros., Chapter 10, p. 147,
      He looked at her shapely person with something of the brazen and evil glance that had been so revolting to her in the eyes of those ruffians.
    • 2006, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Wizard of the Crow, New York: Pantheon, Book Three, Section II, Chapter 3, p. 351,
      “Before this, I never had any cause to suspect my wife of any conspiracy.”
      “You mean it never crossed your mind that she might have been told to whisper evil thoughts in your ear at night?”
  2. Morally corrupt.
    Do you think that companies that engage in animal testing are evil?
    • circa 1590 William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2, Act III, Scene 3,
      Ah, what a sign it is of evil life,
      When death’s approach is seen so terrible.
    • 1848, Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Chapter 41,
      I had much trouble at first in breaking him of those evil habits his father had taught him to acquire […]
    • 1967, Chaim Potok, The Chosen (Potok novel), New York: Fawcett Columbine, 2003, Chapter 1, p. 14,
      To the rabbis who taught in the Jewish parochial schools, baseball was an evil waste of time […]
  3. Unpleasant, foul (of odour, taste, mood, weather, etc.).
    • 1660, John Harding (translator), Paracelsus his Archidoxis, London: W.S., Book 7, “Of an Odoriferous Specifick,” p. 100,
      An Odoriferous Specifick […] is a Matter that takes away Diseases from the Sick, no otherwise then as Civet drives away the stinck of Ordure by its Odour; for you are to observe, That the Specifick doth permix it self with this evil Odour of the Dung; and the stink of the Dung cannot hurt, no[r] abide there […]
    • 1897, H. G. Wells, The Invisible Man, Chapter 18,
      He awoke in an evil temper […]
    • 1937, Robert Byron, The Road to Oxiana, London: Macmillan, Part V, “Mazar-i-Sherif,” p. 282,
      It was an evil day, sticky and leaden: Oxiana looked as colourless and suburban as India.
    • 1958, Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana, Penguin, 1979, Part Four, Chapter 1, p. 125,
      He herded them into a small and evil toilet and then through a window.
    • 1993, Carol Shields, The Stone Diaries, Toronto: Random House of Canada, Chapter One, p. 39,
      Everyone in the tiny, crowded, hot, and evil-smelling kitchen […] has been invited to participate in a moment of history.
  4. Producing or threatening sorrow, distress, injury, or calamity; unpropitious; calamitous.
    • circa 1590 William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 3, Act V, Scene 6,
      The owl shrieked at thy birth,—an evil sign;
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Deuteronomy 22.19,
      […] he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel:
    • 1671, John Milton, Samson Agonistes in Paradise Regain’d, to which is added Samson Agonistes, London: John Starkey, p. 89, lines 438-439,
      A little stay will bring some notice hither,
      For evil news rides post, while good news baits.
    • 1931, Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth, New York: Modern Library, 1944, Chapter 15, p. 122,
      “ […] with bandits and robbers roving over the land in these evil times of famine and war, how can it be said that this one or that stole anything? Hunger makes thief of any man.”
  5. (obsolete) Having harmful qualities; not good; worthless or deleterious.
    an evil beast; an evil plant; an evil crop
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Gospel of Matthew 7.18,
      A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit.
  6. (computing, programming, slang) undesirable; harmful; bad practice
    Global variables are evil; storing processing context in object member variables allows those objects to be reused in a much more flexible way.
Synonyms Antonyms Translations Translations Noun


  1. Moral badness; wickedness; malevolence; the forces or behaviors that are the opposite or enemy of good.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), imprinted at London: By Robert Barker, […], OCLC 964384981 ↗, Ecclesiastes 9:3 ↗:
      The heart of the sons of men is full of evil.
    The evils of society include murder and theft.
    Evil lacks spirituality, hence its need for mind control.
  2. Something which impairs the happiness of a being or deprives a being of any good; something which causes suffering of any kind to sentient beings; harm; injury; mischief.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book 9”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker […] [a]nd by Robert Boulter […] [a]nd Matthias Walker, […], OCLC 228722708 ↗; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: […], London: Basil Montagu Pickering […], 1873, OCLC 230729554 ↗:
      evils which our own misdeeds have wrought
    • 1599, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Ivlivs Cæsar”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act III, scene ii]:
      The evil that men do lives after them.
  3. (obsolete) A malady or disease; especially in the phrase king's evil (scrofula).
    • He [Edward the Confessor] was the first that touched for the evil.
Antonyms Translations Adverb


  1. (obsolete) wickedly, evilly, iniquitously
  2. (obsolete) injuriously, harmfully; in a damaging way.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), imprinted at London: By Robert Barker, […], OCLC 964384981 ↗, 2 Peter 2:2 ↗:
      And many ſhall follow their pernicious wayes, by reaſon of whom the way of trueth ſhall be euill ſpoken of:
  3. (obsolete) badly, poorly; in an insufficient way.

This text is extracted from the Wiktionary and it is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license | Terms and conditions | Privacy policy 0.003
Offline English dictionary