Definition of villain in US English:



  • 1(in a film, novel, or play) a character whose evil actions or motives are important to the plot.

    ‘I have played more good guys than villains’
    ‘cartoon villains determined to spread evil for evil's sake’
    • ‘Ripley is the ambiguous, charming villain in Patricia Highsmith's iconic series of novels who has fascinated readers since he first appeared in 1955.’
    • ‘‘It is a thriller where the main villain is not a person but AIDS itself,’ says Mr. Sarup.’
    • ‘In the tradition of really silly cod spy thrillers, the villains are out to set the world aflame and xXx will have to use all of his powers and lots of high tech stuff to save us all.’
    • ‘In the James Bond thriller On Her Majesty's Secret Service a villain dies horribly when he pitches on to a toboggan run and slides to the bottom - by which time he is hamburger.’
    • ‘While Woodward would gladly play the role of pantomime villain this summer when he takes his Lions to New Zealand, he is not so keen to have the boos and hisses directed at his players.’
    • ‘This is a line that is greatly overused in action movies where an evil villain has plotted to take over the world… or whatever.’
    • ‘In Orwell's novel 1984, Big Brother is the evil villain.’
    • ‘They have characters and plots, heroes and villains.’
    • ‘Sir Andrew describes the character as ‘one of the best villains in Victorian fiction’.’
    • ‘Wevers believes Iago is the most evil of his villains.’
    • ‘Chaucer was great, the villain was definitely evil, and the jousting/action scenes were very well done.’
    • ‘Are all of Shakespeare's villains ' motives intelligible?’
    • ‘The plot involves three villains who inveigle a girl into prostitution in order to make ends meet.’
    • ‘Of course the evil plot that the villain finally springs in the third act makes no particular sense.’
    • ‘For this act he inherited the role of pantomime villain and was booed roundly every time he touched the ball from then on.’
    • ‘Voldermort is the evil villain in the novel, the murderer of Harry's parents, and the creature who plans to kill Harry.’
    • ‘There's even a Hollywood feature film in production, featuring Ben Kingsley as evil villain the Hood, and due for release sometime next year.’
    • ‘This ancestry may also account for the difficulty of explaining the motives of Shakespeare's villains.’
    • ‘To intensify the tragedy of King Lear, Shakespeare has not one but two tragic characters and four villains.’
    • ‘A normal thriller would have a villain, ready to strike at any moment and a hero in hot pursuit of the truth that will set him or her free.’
    • ‘John Lawton writes spy novels in which the spies are villains, and there's no doubt about it.’
    criminal, lawbreaker, outlaw, offender, felon, convict, jailbird, malefactor, wrongdoer, black hat, supervillain
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The person or thing responsible for specified trouble, harm, or damage.
      ‘the industrialized nations are the real environmental villains’
      • ‘They even try to hold the country's governing council responsible for the villain's actions and demand immediate attacks.’
      • ‘To me, he is a great villain, responsible for millions of deaths and for keeping the country in poverty.’
      • ‘The real villain in this depiction is the devil.’
      • ‘But neither Lecter, nor the terrible Mason, are the real villains of ‘Hannibal’.’
      • ‘The real villains of this piece are the weekend cottagers, who bring little to our Dales communities except inflated house prices.’
      • ‘But the real villains in the story are Green and Allen.’
      • ‘As for Australian ports' image of being environmental villains, Hirst says the tag is undeserved for the most part.’
      • ‘An obscene moral inversion has taken place in mainstream thinking, in which those who commit mass murder are viewed with sympathy while their victims are presented as the real villains.’
      • ‘Ever since I learnt about cities and transport planning, I realised that the real villains in urban chaos are personal vehicles.’
      • ‘Why is it taking more than three months to investigate the real villain?’
      • ‘BBC One is attempting to locate and vanquish the villain responsible.’
      • ‘But in Furst's writing it's not always entirely clear who the real villains are.’
      • ‘The main villains of the piece actually are two white middle-class lawyers and policemen.’
      • ‘He and his pals have to find the real villain to clear Harry and stop the carnage.’
      • ‘Trichinosis, a parasite found in pork, is the villain responsible for this accepted practice of burning of our precious pork chops.’
      • ‘Ayurveds also agree that the real villains behind hypertension are smoking, alcohol consumption and high salt intake.’
      • ‘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 he fingers as the Newfoundlanders, who waded into the auks' domains and ravaged them without mercy.’
      • ‘The most egregious environmental villains in the tableware industry are probably plastic disposables.’
      • ‘Is the English ivy covering the unattractive fence in my backyard really an environmental villain?’
  • 2archaic

    variant spelling of villein


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