Definition of baleful in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈbālfəl/


1Threatening harm; menacing: Bill shot a baleful glance in her direction the baleful light cast trembling shadows
More example sentences
  • If it's possible to cast a baleful glance with one eye shut, then she did it.
  • She wiped at it furtively, casting a baleful glance around to see if anyone noticed.
  • Zack buried his head in her shoulder, pausing in the crying to give me a baleful glance or two, and to lob the occasional ‘I don't like you Daddy, you're a meanie.’
menacing, threatening, unfriendly, hostile, antagonistic, evil, evil-intentioned, vindictive, wicked, nasty, bitter, acrimonious, malevolent, malicious, malignant, malign, sinister;
harmful, injurious, dangerous, destructive, noxious, pernicious, deadly, venomous, poisonous, vitriolic
literary malefic, maleficent
1.1Having a harmful or destructive effect: drug money has had a baleful impact on the country
More example sentences
  • The baleful effect of overwhelming electoral landslides, usually worse than suggested by the cube rule, has also been underplayed.
  • Just for a moment you are swept by a sense of doubt - perhaps The Economist, that most sober of journals, is referring to the baleful effects of global warming.
  • The second is the baleful effect of regulation.



Pronunciation: /ˈbālfəlē/
Example sentences
  • Mum expressed this by huffing from room to room muttering about road deaths and glaring at me balefully, pausing to sigh ‘it's not that I don't trust you, love.’
  • He once remarked balefully that ‘in England I am too much an American, and in America, too much an Englishman.’
  • It is such a retro settlement that the working men's club glares balefully across Main Street at the Conservative club, like the post-industrial revolution never happened.


Example sentences
  • It is loathsome to think that balefulness of an unknown cause could create such a catastrophe.
  • Continuous wars brought enormous balefulness to the people giving rise to wide opposition in the small states.
  • But the balefulness of the act is hardly reduced thereby - and therefore my sentiments about the filth who carried out the deed remain essentially the same.


Old English bealufull (see bale2, -ful).

  • This comes from an old Germanic word, bale, meaning ‘evil’.

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Related Words