Definition of baleful in English:

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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’.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: bale·ful

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