Definition of villain in 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’
    ‘the terrorists are cartoon villains’
    • ‘‘It is a thriller where the main villain is not a person but AIDS itself,’ says Mr. Sarup.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Ripley is the ambiguous, charming villain in Patricia Highsmith's iconic series of novels who has fascinated readers since he first appeared in 1955.’
    • ‘This is a line that is greatly overused in action movies where an evil villain has plotted to take over the world… or whatever.’
    • ‘The plot involves three villains who inveigle a girl into prostitution in order to make ends meet.’
    • ‘There's even a Hollywood feature film in production, featuring Ben Kingsley as evil villain the Hood, and due for release sometime next year.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This ancestry may also account for the difficulty of explaining the motives of Shakespeare's villains.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Voldermort is the evil villain in the novel, the murderer of Harry's parents, and the creature who plans to kill Harry.’
    • ‘John Lawton writes spy novels in which the spies are villains, and there's no doubt about it.’
    • ‘They have characters and plots, heroes and villains.’
    • ‘In Orwell's novel 1984, Big Brother is the evil villain.’
    • ‘Chaucer was great, the villain was definitely evil, and the jousting/action scenes were very well done.’
    • ‘To intensify the tragedy of King Lear, Shakespeare has not one but two tragic characters and four villains.’
    • ‘Are all of Shakespeare's villains ' motives intelligible?’
    • ‘For this act he inherited the role of pantomime villain and was booed roundly every time he touched the ball from then on.’
    • ‘Of course the evil plot that the villain finally springs in the third act makes no particular sense.’
    • ‘Sir Andrew describes the character as ‘one of the best villains in Victorian fiction’.’
    • ‘Wevers believes Iago is the most evil of his villains.’
    • ‘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.’
    criminal, lawbreaker, outlaw, offender, felon, convict, jailbird, malefactor, wrongdoer, black hat, supervillain
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    1. 1.1 The person or thing responsible for specified trouble, harm, or damage.
      ‘the industrialized nations are the real environmental villains’
      • ‘To me, he is a great villain, responsible for millions of deaths and for keeping the country in poverty.’
      • ‘The real villains of this piece are the weekend cottagers, who bring little to our Dales communities except inflated house prices.’
      • ‘They even try to hold the country's governing council responsible for the villain's actions and demand immediate attacks.’
      • ‘The real villain in this depiction is the devil.’
      • ‘Why is it taking more than three months to investigate the real villain?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Ever since I learnt about cities and transport planning, I realised that the real villains in urban chaos are personal vehicles.’
      • ‘Ayurveds also agree that the real villains behind hypertension are smoking, alcohol consumption and high salt intake.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The most egregious environmental villains in the tableware industry are probably plastic disposables.’
      • ‘Trichinosis, a parasite found in pork, is the villain responsible for this accepted practice of burning of our precious pork chops.’
      • ‘BBC One is attempting to locate and vanquish the villain responsible.’
      • ‘The real villains he fingers as the Newfoundlanders, who waded into the auks' domains and ravaged them without mercy.’
      • ‘But neither Lecter, nor the terrible Mason, are the real villains of ‘Hannibal’.’
      • ‘But in Furst's writing it's not always entirely clear who the real villains are.’
      • ‘As for Australian ports' image of being environmental villains, Hirst says the tag is undeserved for the most part.’
      • ‘Is the English ivy covering the unattractive fence in my backyard really an environmental villain?’
      • ‘But the real villains in the story are Green and Allen.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 2archaic

    variant spelling of villein


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