Definition of villain in English:


Line breaks: vil|lain
Pronunciation: /ˈvɪlən


1(In a film, novel, or play) a character whose evil actions or motives are important to the plot: a pantomime villain I have played more good guys than villains
More example sentences
  • Voldermort is the evil villain in the novel, the murderer of Harry's parents, and the creature who plans to kill Harry.
  • This ancestry may also account for the difficulty of explaining the motives of Shakespeare's villains.
  • This is a line that is greatly overused in action movies where an evil villain has plotted to take over the world… or whatever.
1.1British informal A criminal: some people have been tricked by villains with false identity cards the armed villains run off into the night
More example sentences
  • One villains' network put up for sale a database containing credit card details of 7,000 Britons.
  • As has been pointed out previously on spiked, the status of victim and villain are often interchangeable.
  • The Chinese government's reaction - every so often - is to behead a bunch of obvious and odious villains.
criminal, lawbreaker, outlaw, offender, felon, convict, jailbird, malefactor, wrongdoer, black hat, supervillain; transgressor, sinner; gangster, gunman, bandit, brigand, desperado, thief, robber, mugger, swindler, fraudster, racketeer, terrorist, pirate; rogue, scoundrel, wretch, heel, reprobate, charlatan, evil-doer, ruffian, hoodlum, hooligan, thug, delinquent, ne'er-do-well, good-for-nothing
informal crook, con, crim, baddy, shark, rat, snake, snake in the grass, dog, hound, louse, swine, scumbag, wrong 'un
British informal , dated rotter, bounder, bad egg, stinker
Lawmalfeasant, misfeasor, infractor
dated cad, knave, rake
1.2The person or thing responsible for specified problems, harm, or damage: the industrialized nations are the real environmental villains
More example sentences
  • But it is the Scottish banks which are the real villains of the piece, all huddled together in an abysmal performance right at the bottom of the league table.
  • The real villains of this piece are the weekend cottagers, who bring little to our Dales communities except inflated house prices.
  • They even try to hold the country's governing council responsible for the villain's actions and demand immediate attacks.
2 archaic variant spelling of villein.


Middle English (in the sense 'a rustic, boor'): from Old French vilein, based on Latin villa (see villa).


the villain of the piece

British The person or thing responsible for all of the trouble or harm in a particular situation: TV tends to be cast as the villain of the piece Holdsworth was the villain of the piece when he missed an open goal
More example sentences
  • He thinks she's trying to make him out to be the villain of the piece.
  • The locked-up wife is transformed into the villain of the piece.
  • Jones, the villain of the piece to Americans, was an Australian.

Definition of villain in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day animalcule
Pronunciation: ˌanɪˈmalkjuːl
a microscopic animal