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’
    ‘cartoon villains determined to spread evil for evil's sake’
    • ‘‘It is a thriller where the main villain is not a person but AIDS itself,’ says Mr. Sarup.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There's even a Hollywood feature film in production, featuring Ben Kingsley as evil villain the Hood, and due for release sometime next year.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This ancestry may also account for the difficulty of explaining the motives of Shakespeare's villains.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Voldermort is the evil villain in the novel, the murderer of Harry's parents, and the creature who plans to kill Harry.’
    • ‘Of course the evil plot that the villain finally springs in the third act makes no particular sense.’
    • ‘Ripley is the ambiguous, charming villain in Patricia Highsmith's iconic series of novels who has fascinated readers since he first appeared in 1955.’
    • ‘The plot involves three villains who inveigle a girl into prostitution in order to make ends meet.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Are all of Shakespeare's villains ' motives intelligible?’
    • ‘This is a line that is greatly overused in action movies where an evil villain has plotted to take over the world… or whatever.’
    • ‘Sir Andrew describes the character as ‘one of the best villains in Victorian fiction’.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘For this act he inherited the role of pantomime villain and was booed roundly every time he touched the ball from then on.’
    • ‘In Orwell's novel 1984, Big Brother is the evil villain.’
    • ‘To intensify the tragedy of King Lear, Shakespeare has not one but two tragic characters and four villains.’
    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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Ayurveds also agree that the real villains behind hypertension are smoking, alcohol consumption and high salt intake.’
      • ‘The real villains of this piece are the weekend cottagers, who bring little to our Dales communities except inflated house prices.’
      • ‘But in Furst's writing it's not always entirely clear who the real villains are.’
      • ‘Why is it taking more than three months to investigate the real villain?’
      • ‘Ever since I learnt about cities and transport planning, I realised that the real villains in urban chaos are personal vehicles.’
      • ‘As for Australian ports' image of being environmental villains, Hirst says the tag is undeserved for the most part.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘The real villain in this depiction is the devil.’
      • ‘BBC One is attempting to locate and vanquish the villain responsible.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Trichinosis, a parasite found in pork, is the villain responsible for this accepted practice of burning of our precious pork chops.’
      • ‘He and his pals have to find the real villain to clear Harry and stop the carnage.’
      • ‘But neither Lecter, nor the terrible Mason, are the real villains of ‘Hannibal’.’
      • ‘To me, he is a great villain, responsible for millions of deaths and for keeping the country in poverty.’
      • ‘The main villains of the piece actually are two white middle-class lawyers and policemen.’
      • ‘They even try to hold the country's governing council responsible for the villain's actions and demand immediate attacks.’
      • ‘But the real villains in the story are Green and Allen.’
      • ‘The real villains he fingers as the Newfoundlanders, who waded into the auks' domains and ravaged them without mercy.’
  • 2archaic

    variant spelling of villein


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