Definition of evil in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈēvəl/


1Profoundly immoral and malevolent: his evil deeds no man is so evil as to be beyond redemption
More example sentences
  • She too is evil, dark and wicked and she too will pay the price if she does die.
  • A girl can't even get the satisfaction of contemplating evil deeds in a properly villainous position these days!
  • His atrocities and evil deeds invited the curse.
wicked, bad, wrong, immoral, sinful, foul, vile, dishonorable, corrupt, iniquitous, depraved, reprobate, villainous, nefarious, vicious, malicious;
malevolent, sinister, demonic, devilish, diabolical, fiendish, dark;
monstrous, shocking, despicable, atrocious, heinous, odious, contemptible, horrible, execrable
informal lowdown, dirty
1.1(Of a force or spirit) embodying or associated with the forces of the devil: we have been driven out of the house by this evil spirit
More example sentences
  • The devils and evil spirits of the next day were perhaps more psychosomatic and drawn from the excesses of the night before than derived from a Celtic past.
  • The malevolent exercise of supposed supernatural powers, especially by women, attributed to a connection with the devil or evil spirits.
  • It can also take the form of an exorcism, where the treatment is meant to drive out an evil spirit or devil from the victim.
1.2Harmful or tending to harm: the evil effects of high taxes
More example sentences
  • Taxes with or without representation are evil, ever fostering harm and destruction.
  • Logically, if one follows the common mores of the west, the intent to ‘do harm’ would be evil.
  • In his homily he urged the young people to remain loyal to the pledge to abstain from alcohol which they were taking, and warned them of the evil effect on society from the use of drugs.
cruel, mischievous, pernicious, malignant, malign, baleful, vicious;
destructive, harmful, hurtful, injurious, detrimental, deleterious, inimical, bad, ruinous
1.3(Of something seen or smelled) extremely unpleasant: a bathroom with an evil smell
More example sentences
  • One of these, when I knew it many years ago, was black, splattered with pigeon droppings, subjected to dense fogs, evil smells, filth everywhere.
  • Speight's putsch has the evil smell of a South Pacific Kristallnacht.
  • Borne along by the flow of traffic, she passed through the forum arch into a stew of noises, colors, and evil smells.
unpleasant, disagreeable, nasty, horrible, foul, disgusting, filthy, vile, noxious


1Profound immorality, wickedness, and depravity, especially when regarded as a supernatural force: the world is stalked by relentless evil good and evil in eternal opposition
More example sentences
  • Righting wrongs and fighting evil, corruption, wickedness and stupidity is just part time work.
  • All of which would suggest that a film which casts spiders as the malevolent force of evil would be a natural fit for a when nature attacks horror movie.
  • Watch them battle the forces of evil in the guise of a smiling clown.
1.1A manifestation of this, especially in people’s actions: the evil that took place last Thursday
More example sentences
  • Next will be that perennial complaint by predictable hand wringers that children's toy advertising is a modern evil of biblical proportions.
  • I implore the May Day protesters to worry about real problems, rather than just labelling everything as an evil of capitalism.
  • There are indications that romantic aberrations are becoming more and more an evil of underprivileged people.
abomination, atrocity, obscenity, outrage, enormity, crime, monstrosity, barbarity
1.2Something that is harmful or undesirable: sexism, racism, and all other unpleasant social evils
More example sentences
  • It is a minor skin problem yet it is considered a social evil.
  • It was for the political reason that Nazism had ceased to be a social evil, especially when viewed alongside the new menace of communism.
  • We are responsible to God if by our carelessness or neglect we lead our children into a life or crime or other social evils.



the evil eye

A gaze or stare superstitiously believed to cause material harm: he gave me the evil eye as I walked down the corridor
More example sentences
  • About half of Bulgarians believe in telepathy, the evil eye and black magic, and that dreams can be prophetic.
  • The superstitious belief in the evil eye is ancient and widespread, though certainly not universal.
  • Nor does he believe in the evil eye, bad omen, and that kind of stuff.

the Evil One

archaic The Devil.
Example sentences
  • Remember that the Evil One is ruling over a community of noble savages, peace-loving people whose only problem is that they are oppressed by the Evil One.
  • Each of my paintings is like a book, exposing the tricks of the Evil One, revealing hidden truths through metaphoric symbols, hidden passages and written text.
  • But he puts it from him as a temptation of the Evil One, makes public confession on the pillory which had been the scene of Hester's shame, and dies in her arms.

give someone (the) evils

British informal Glare at someone: I looked at the girl he’d been eyeing up and I gave her the evils
More example sentences
  • His mum gave me the evils from her bedroom window.
  • Her little sister (adorable little six year old who keeps falling over and making me laugh) gave me the evils because I was taking her big sis away for the evening.
  • I had my little sister Marianne in the car with me, so I said, "Stare at him as we drive past; give him the evils!"

put off the evil day (or hour)

Postpone something unpleasant for as long as possible.
Example sentences
  • This is one of the earlier outdoor festivals on the calendar and, unfortunately, the dedicated committee, who have organised six highly successful Féiles so far, did not have the luxury of putting off the evil day.
  • But I am convinced that the right course adjustment now is better than dithering or putting off the evil day: sooner or later, even greater disruption, and perhaps worse, would follow.
  • The government is putting off the evil day of spending money at direct cost to the individuals who live along the coast.

speak evil of

Slander: it is a sin to speak evil of the king
More example sentences
  • Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
  • But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in My Name, that can lightly speak evil of Me.
  • They never spoke evil of each other, and acted civil towards one another, which was an advantage for everyone.



Pronunciation: /ˈēvəllē/
Example sentences
  • That vote may have been evilly garnered by preying on people's baser tendencies, but again, a vote's a vote.
  • But it descended into your stomach through your nose and mouth and sat there evilly.
  • It comes from evil masterminds stroking their chin and smirking evilly.


Pronunciation: /ˈēvəlnəs/
Example sentences
  • The evil doers will be judged according to their work of evilness!
  • But instead of haranguing about corporate evilness, compete with them in the marketplace and be specific and even more energetic about bringing to light their polluting, wasting behaviors.
  • The Child Catcher is a wonderful part because I can get rid of all the venom and evilness which has accumulated during the day.


Old English yfel, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch euvel and German Übel.

  • Like good and bad, evil goes back to the earliest times, and many have reflected on its nature over the centuries. ‘The evil that men do lives after them’, wrote Shakespeare in Julius Caesar. The proverb See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil is often represented by the image of ‘three wise monkeys’, who are pictured covering their eyes, ears, and mouth with their hands. The carving of the original monkeys is found on a shrine at Nikko in Japan. The idea of a necessary evil goes back to Greek. The first necessary evil was marriage, and the first example in English, from 1547, refers to a woman. In his State of the Union address of February 2002, US President George W. Bush said of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea that they constituted ‘an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of this world’. The phrase is now used to encapsulate the Bush administration's stance in foreign relations, much as the evil empire (inspired by the Star Wars films) summed up Ronald Reagan's view of the Soviet Union.

Words that rhyme with evil

coeval, Khedival, medieval, primeval, retrieval, shrieval, upheaval

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: e·vil

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