Definition of evil in English:



  • 1Profoundly immoral and malevolent.

    ‘his evil deeds’
    ‘no man is so evil as to be beyond redemption’
    • ‘Since then, I have heard Destiny call us evil, abnormal and immoral.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She too is evil, dark and wicked and she too will pay the price if she does die.’
    • ‘The act of killing thousands of innocent people is profoundly evil and we rightly abhor it.’
    • ‘A man is either good, bad or evil, moral or immoral.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We read about someone who does evil deeds and is of wrong view, and who has an unhappy rebirth.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘These people have to repent their evil deeds and show they have repented,’ he said.’
    • ‘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.’
    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 have been driven out of the house by this evil spirit’
      • ‘This tale goes back hundreds of years to a time when cats were associated with witchcraft and evil spirits.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘When I think of the devil, I don't picture an evil force out to destroy us all by any means necessary.’
      • ‘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 captain of the bad team is the devil, assisted by demons, evil spirits and politicians.’
      • ‘Had we stuck with the supernatural explanation, we would never have advanced beyond blood letting or exorcisms to get the evil spirits out.’
      • ‘The Devil's Stone, it read, contained the many evil spirits and souls of the past.’
      • ‘It is here that beef eating begins to become associated with pollution and evil spirits.’
      • ‘Exhausted from the heat, the great serpent and all the evil spirits and little serpents fell asleep.’
      • ‘The trees that stood around us seemed to grope around, like evil spirits searching for souls.’
      • ‘Also bonfires were lit to driveaway evil forces.’
      • ‘Tradition associates dances with the casting out of evil spirits.’
      • ‘It includes dances representing good and evil forces in the form of maidens and devils.’
      • ‘He precedes the dancers and it is his duty to crack the whip to drive away any evil spirits or forces of evil.’
      • ‘They used powerful spells on the relic, that would prove to be most potent and would repel evil forces from using it.’
      • ‘It also says that a warlock so powerful will be born and he alone can stop this evil force from walking the Earth.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2 Harmful or tending to harm.
      ‘the evil effects of high taxes’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘An evil act, a destructive act, is a choice made by a human being.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘That's what good laws do, father: restrain the evil effects of misuse of free will.’
      • ‘One little girl reminded me that the guitar, too, is hard to use to really evil effect if it is at least in tune.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Taxes with or without representation are evil, ever fostering harm and destruction.’
      • ‘People throng it to ward off the evil effects of this planet.’
      • ‘I see arising a great movement among women to safeguard themselves and their children from the evil effects of too liberal a capitalism.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Logically, if one follows the common mores of the west, the intent to ‘do harm’ would be evil.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He was so certain as to the evil effects that he might not go out, fearing some street accident.’
      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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    3. 1.3 (of something seen or smelled) extremely unpleasant.
      ‘a bathroom with an 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.’
      • ‘It also seemed to have been taken for granted that it was the source of the evil smell that lingered in the room.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The whole place had a damp and evil smell, and as I moved my torch a rat scuttled across the floor.’
      unpleasant, disagreeable, nasty, horrible, foul, filthy, vile
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  • 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’
    • ‘They are still recovering from their battle with the forces of evil who sought to destroy all who live in the great house.’
    • ‘You have won a place in this world, but remember, the last to hold it was filled with wickedness and evil.’
    • ‘But a culture that is consciously bent on rejecting moral norms is on a collision course with profound evil.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘Heroic deeds reinforce the bonds of the human condition in ways that resist the forces of terror and 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.’
    • ‘Too bad the actor does not believe in liberating people from the forces of evil in the real world.’
    • ‘And we hold you up in pride as our symbol in the fight of Good against the forces of darkness and evil.’
    • ‘The forces of good and evil in the world have strengths and weaknesses such that neither side can vanquish the other.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘You follow the trail all the way back to, yep, supernatural evil, a hidden dark lord, whatever.’
    • ‘Watch them battle the forces of evil in the guise of a smiling clown.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I believe that my dharma is to prove that the Force for Good takes precedence over the force for evil in mankind.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And then, just when victory would be at its closest, the forces of evil would surround him.’
    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 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.’
      • ‘An evil of unimaginable proportions has been unleashed.’
      • ‘The evil of entrusting our liberty to politicians is compounded by a lack of independent safeguards or transparency.’
      • ‘He regarded vampirism as a curse, and the ultimate evil was to force it on someone unwilling.’
      • ‘All of the priests I interviewed saw witchcraft as an intrinsic evil of the post-colonial economy.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Next will be that perennial complaint by predictable hand wringers that children's toy advertising is a modern evil of biblical proportions.’
      • ‘And he spoke candidly of the whole Catholic Church in this country being ‘tainted with the evil of child abuse’.’
      • ‘There are indications that romantic aberrations are becoming more and more an evil of underprivileged people.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The evil of these acts is almost too much to comprehend.’
      • ‘I implore the May Day protesters to worry about real problems, rather than just labelling everything as an evil of capitalism.’
      • ‘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.’
      abomination, atrocity, obscenity, outrage, enormity, crime, monstrosity, barbarity, barbarism
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    2. 1.2 Something that is harmful or undesirable.
      ‘sexism, racism, and all other unpleasant social evils’
      • ‘We are responsible to God if by our carelessness or neglect we lead our children into a life or crime or other social evils.’
      • ‘He had rendered an unrelenting battle against the social evils which was taken up by his disciples later.’
      • ‘It is a minor skin problem yet it is considered a social evil.’
      • ‘These evils are extraordinarily difficult to prove in particular cases.’
      • ‘This is the latest episode in the vilification of videogames, which overnight has become a social evil up there with guns, pornography, and smoking.’
      • ‘The blow by blow attack on social evils was delineated through other forms of folk art too.’
      • ‘He urged the people to cooperate the district administration in its fight against social evils.’
      • ‘Issues such as suicides of farmers, pollution and social evils are often the subjects.’
      • ‘Hopefully the Biblical passage above will serve to act as a timely reminder of the evils and perils of dancing.’
      • ‘It was a forced response, albeit a generous one, to the social evils that the hurricane had exposed.’
      • ‘She just doesn't get it - the depiction of family dysfunction is not a social evil.’
      • ‘Alms-giving should be eradicated as a social evil like untouchability.’
      • ‘It was for the political reason that Nazism had ceased to be a social evil, especially when viewed alongside the new menace of communism.’
      • ‘The protection of young people from smoking and other social evils are our responsibility.’
      • ‘Where in the world has the African culture regarded the practice of homosexuality as a social evil?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Professionals who excel in their field but become edentulous when they come up against a social evil.’
      • ‘In a bold but lucid way he lays bare the social evils and rampant corruption in those times.’
      • ‘I owe the media thanks for acting like a mirror in exposing those social evils such as corruption.’
      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.