Definition of evil in English:



  • 1Profoundly immoral and wicked:

    ‘his evil deeds’
    ‘no man is so evil as to be beyond redemption’
    • ‘She too is evil, dark and wicked and she too will pay the price if she does die.’
    • ‘She will then be able to turn around and say - everyone knows of this person, everyone has heard of this person, and his evil deeds that I allege he's done.’
    • ‘Not to show overwhelming strength is immoral, since it will induce evildoers to perform more evil deeds because they'll think they can get away with it.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A man is either good, bad or evil, moral or immoral.’
    • ‘We read about someone who does evil deeds and is of wrong view, and who has an unhappy rebirth.’
    • ‘‘These people have to repent their evil deeds and show they have repented,’ he said.’
    • ‘The Queen's Park sex attacker has already told friends or family about his evil deed, according to the man leading the hunt to catch him.’
    • ‘The act of killing thousands of innocent people is profoundly evil and we rightly abhor it.’
    • ‘If it had not been for that day, she'd still be living with her mother, not knowing anything about her evil grandfather and his wicked schemes.’
    • ‘Since then, I have heard Destiny call us evil, abnormal and immoral.’
    wicked, bad, wrong, morally wrong, wrongful, immoral, sinful, ungodly, unholy, foul, vile, base, ignoble, dishonourable, corrupt, iniquitous, depraved, degenerate, villainous, nefarious, sinister, vicious, malicious, malevolent, demonic, devilish, diabolic, diabolical, fiendish, dark, black-hearted
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    1. 1.1 (of a force or spirit) embodying or associated with the forces of the devil:
      ‘we were driven out of the house by an evil spirit’
      • ‘It is very different from the image of a binding and restraining of evil forces, although later traditions imply that this was the work of Day One, and so part of the forbidden mystery.’
      • ‘The trees that stood around us seemed to grope around, like evil spirits searching for souls.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘When I think of the devil, I don't picture an evil force out to destroy us all by any means necessary.’
      • ‘It is here that beef eating begins to become associated with pollution and evil spirits.’
      • ‘Tradition associates dances with the casting out of evil spirits.’
      • ‘Also bonfires were lit to driveaway evil forces.’
      • ‘This tale goes back hundreds of years to a time when cats were associated with witchcraft and evil spirits.’
      • ‘Had we stuck with the supernatural explanation, we would never have advanced beyond blood letting or exorcisms to get the evil spirits out.’
      • ‘The captain of the bad team is the devil, assisted by demons, evil spirits and politicians.’
      • ‘The Devil's Stone, it read, contained the many evil spirits and souls of the past.’
      • ‘Does that influence your view on what these folk are seeing - whether evil spirits, or unexplained forces, or loved ones from beyond?’
      • ‘He therefore becomes demonised, an evil spirit or Devil.’
      • ‘The malevolent exercise of supposed supernatural powers, especially by women, attributed to a connection with the devil or evil spirits.’
      • ‘He precedes the dancers and it is his duty to crack the whip to drive away any evil spirits or forces of evil.’
      • ‘It includes dances representing good and evil forces in the form of maidens and devils.’
      • ‘Exhausted from the heat, the great serpent and all the evil spirits and little serpents fell asleep.’
      • ‘It also says that a warlock so powerful will be born and he alone can stop this evil force from walking the Earth.’
      • ‘They used powerful spells on the relic, that would prove to be most potent and would repel evil forces from using it.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2 Harmful or tending to harm:
      ‘the evil effects of high taxes’
      • ‘An evil act, a destructive act, is a choice made by a human being.’
      • ‘Protecting civilians from the evil effects of battle has long been a fundamental goal of the law of armed conflict.’
      • ‘Britain's colonial policy, which resulted in the annexation of NZ in 1840, was also shaped by a desire to limit the evil effects of the felonry on Maori.’
      • ‘I see arising a great movement among women to safeguard themselves and their children from the evil effects of too liberal a capitalism.’
      • ‘Taxes with or without representation are evil, ever fostering harm and destruction.’
      • ‘Many of the participants painted wine glass in flames and a serpent coming out of a liquor bottle, throwing light on the evil effects of drinking.’
      • ‘It is a lesson which some of our less enlightened citizens would do well to learn before they put pen to paper decrying the wholesale evil effects of immigration.’
      • ‘If you are not prepared to consider the evil effects of the war alongside the putative advantages, then you will be unlikely to reach a reliable evaluation of the evidence.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The ceremony was prompted by an astrologer who told the girl's father that the union would transfer the evil effects of the planet Saturn from the girl to the dog.’
      • ‘People throng it to ward off the evil effects of this planet.’
      • ‘Having good intentions, not harming others, avoiding evil actions and making the heart and mind pure in thought were among the truths spoken by the Buddha.’
      • ‘One little girl reminded me that the guitar, too, is hard to use to really evil effect if it is at least in tune.’
      • ‘He was so certain as to the evil effects that he might not go out, fearing some street accident.’
      • ‘Logically, if one follows the common mores of the west, the intent to ‘do harm’ would be evil.’
      • ‘That's what good laws do, father: restrain the evil effects of misuse of free will.’
      unlucky, unfortunate, unfavourable, adverse, unhappy, disastrous, catastrophic, ruinous, calamitous, unpropitious, inauspicious, dire, woeful
      harmful, hurtful, injurious, detrimental, deleterious, inimical, bad, mischievous, pernicious, malignant, malign, baleful, venomous, noxious, poisonous
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  • 2(of a smell or sight) extremely unpleasant:

    ‘a bathroom with an ineradicably evil smell’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The whole place had a damp and evil smell, and as I moved my torch a rat scuttled across the floor.’
    • ‘It also seemed to have been taken for granted that it was the source of the evil smell that lingered in the room.’
    • ‘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, filthy, vile
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  • 1[mass noun] Profound immorality and wickedness, especially when regarded as a supernatural force:

    ‘his struggle against the forces of evil’
    • ‘Heroic deeds reinforce the bonds of the human condition in ways that resist the forces of terror and evil.’
    • ‘And then, just when victory would be at its closest, the forces of evil would surround him.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In short, I tend to think the modern empire is fueled by greed and power and fear and other vestigial ape-politics, rather than some dark forces of ritualistic evil.’
    • ‘It is time for goodness and Godliness to triumph once more over wickedness and evil.’
    • ‘These characters may be incarnates of some supernatural evil, but it's not likely.’
    • ‘Military force defeats evil in comic books and at the movies.’
    • ‘Righting wrongs and fighting evil, corruption, wickedness and stupidity is just part time work.’
    • ‘And we hold you up in pride as our symbol in the fight of Good against the forces of darkness and evil.’
    • ‘What forces of evil could so cloud the minds of the designers that they would put the volume controls down a level from the main menu?’
    • ‘They are still recovering from their battle with the forces of evil who sought to destroy all who live in the great house.’
    • ‘He then murders his girlfriend and chops off a certain body part of his own, all while imagining the cause of this to some sort of supernatural evil.’
    • ‘Watch them battle the forces of evil in the guise of a smiling clown.’
    • ‘But a culture that is consciously bent on rejecting moral norms is on a collision course with profound evil.’
    • ‘You follow the trail all the way back to, yep, supernatural evil, a hidden dark lord, whatever.’
    • ‘Too bad the actor does not believe in liberating people from the forces of evil in the real world.’
    • ‘The war that waged between the forces of good and evil would be filled with bloody battles and in accordance to the winner, the balance would shift.’
    • ‘The forces of good and evil in the world have strengths and weaknesses such that neither side can vanquish the other.’
    • ‘I believe that my dharma is to prove that the Force for Good takes precedence over the force for evil in mankind.’
    • ‘You have won a place in this world, but remember, the last to hold it was filled with wickedness and evil.’
    wickedness, bad, badness, wrong, wrongdoing, sin, sinfulness, ungodliness, immorality, vice, iniquity, turpitude, degeneracy, vileness, baseness, perversion, corruption, depravity, villainy, nefariousness, atrocity, malevolence, devilishness
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    1. 1.1[count noun] A manifestation of this, especially in people's actions:
      ‘the evil that took place last Thursday’
      • ‘It protects me from the evil of surveillance - by officials, by the unwanted gaze of strangers, by anyone I chose to remain anonymous from.’
      • ‘So for days I ate turkey, feebly rationalizing that I wouldn't add the evil of waste to the evil of the murder of the poor birds, who by then were beyond pain.’
      • ‘Many people have made the point that the Holocaust is not simply a terrible historical event, but a reminder for everyone of the evil of which humans are capable.’
      • ‘The evil of entrusting our liberty to politicians is compounded by a lack of independent safeguards or transparency.’
      • ‘All of the priests I interviewed saw witchcraft as an intrinsic evil of the post-colonial economy.’
      • ‘He regarded vampirism as a curse, and the ultimate evil was to force it on someone unwilling.’
      • ‘I implore the May Day protesters to worry about real problems, rather than just labelling everything as an evil of capitalism.’
      • ‘This resulted in the evil of the conquest of Eastern Europe by Red fascism, replacing Black fascism, whilst freeing Western Europe from the Black fascists.’
      • ‘The evil of these acts is almost too much to comprehend.’
      • ‘Next will be that perennial complaint by predictable hand wringers that children's toy advertising is a modern evil of biblical proportions.’
      • ‘There are indications that romantic aberrations are becoming more and more an evil of underprivileged people.’
      • ‘But the whole business of slavery is an evil of the first magnitude, and a most horrible iniquity to traffic with slaves and souls of men; and an evil.’
      • ‘The Alliance will continue to use our powers for the good of promoting these two, rather than for the evil of working against those we don't want to win.’
      • ‘An evil of unimaginable proportions has been unleashed.’
      • ‘And he spoke candidly of the whole Catholic Church in this country being ‘tainted with the evil of child abuse’.’
      abomination, atrocity, obscenity, outrage, enormity, crime, monstrosity, barbarity, barbarism
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    2. 1.2[count noun] Something which is harmful or undesirable:
      ‘sexism, racism, and all other unpleasant social evils’
      • ‘The protection of young people from smoking and other social evils are our responsibility.’
      • ‘It is a minor skin problem yet it is considered a social evil.’
      • ‘In a bold but lucid way he lays bare the social evils and rampant corruption in those times.’
      • ‘It was a forced response, albeit a generous one, to the social evils that the hurricane had exposed.’
      • ‘He had rendered an unrelenting battle against the social evils which was taken up by his disciples later.’
      • ‘We are responsible to God if by our carelessness or neglect we lead our children into a life or crime or other social evils.’
      • ‘Issues such as suicides of farmers, pollution and social evils are often the subjects.’
      • ‘She just doesn't get it - the depiction of family dysfunction is not a social evil.’
      • ‘This is the latest episode in the vilification of videogames, which overnight has become a social evil up there with guns, pornography, and smoking.’
      • ‘These evils are extraordinarily difficult to prove in particular cases.’
      • ‘He urged the people to cooperate the district administration in its fight against social evils.’
      • ‘Hopefully the Biblical passage above will serve to act as a timely reminder of the evils and perils of dancing.’
      • ‘The blow by blow attack on social evils was delineated through other forms of folk art too.’
      • ‘Alms-giving should be eradicated as a social evil like untouchability.’
      • ‘To cope with such social evils, people spend money on more expensive products.’
      • ‘The course focuses on systemic evils and the social contexts that produce them.’
      • ‘It was for the political reason that Nazism had ceased to be a social evil, especially when viewed alongside the new menace of communism.’
      • ‘Professionals who excel in their field but become edentulous when they come up against a social evil.’
      • ‘I owe the media thanks for acting like a mirror in exposing those social evils such as corruption.’
      • ‘Where in the world has the African culture regarded the practice of homosexuality as a social evil?’
      harm, pain, hurt, misery, sorrow, suffering, trauma, trouble, disaster, detriment, destruction, loss, misfortune, catastrophe, calamity, affliction, woe, ruin, hardship
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Old English yfel, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch euvel and German Übel.