Definition of villainous in English:



  • 1Relating to, constituting, or guilty of wicked or criminal behaviour.

    ‘a villainous plot’
    • ‘It tells the story of Vindici (played in our film by Christopher Eccleston), who, impoverished and dispossessed, returns to court to murder the villainous duke.’
    • ‘In this critically acclaimed performance, the actor explores and analyses some of Shakespeare's most villainous characters like Lago, the Macbeths, Shylock and Richard III.’
    • ‘Set during the era of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Gladiator casts Joaquin Phoenix as Aurelius's villainous heir who imprisons hero general Maximus and forces him to become a gladiator.’
    • ‘Charlie also is trying to escape the clutches of the villainous Rafi, who has masterminded the evil plot.’
    • ‘In the soap, Richard Hillman gained infamy for his dodgy dealings and ruthless behaviour, killing anyone who got in the way of villainous schemes.’
    • ‘With the images of terror still vividly etched in our personal and collective consciousness, it is easy and tempting to project all of modern evil on to terrorists or other villainous people.’
    • ‘John Kesterton, the deputy headmaster of Tadcaster Grammar School, takes the role of the villainous Bill Sykes, whose poor, unfortunate girlfriend Nancy is played by Tamsin Chadwick, while Shelley Cook is Bet.’
    • ‘Anderson is an evil, reckless, villainous outlaw - in her own words.’
    • ‘Engaged on a somewhat illegal errand for his brother Darren, in prison on a drugs charge, he witnesses a gangland murder carried out by the villainous Harry Taylor.’
    • ‘What course will justice take to make those responsible for the villainous wickedness perpetrated on the silent victims pay?’
    • ‘Britain has become a bolt-hole for villainous individuals and criminal organisations from all over the world.’
    • ‘‘I always play bad guys, misunderstood beings,’ says Fraser, who recently lit up the stage as the villainous servant Dubois in Marivaux's Counterfeit Secrets.’
    • ‘Kenneth Branagh preens himself amusingly as buttery fop, explorer and new Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher Gilderoy Lockhart; Jason Isaacs is disdain personified as the villainous Lucius Malfoy.’
    • ‘The result of this majestic writing spree is the swashbuckling tale of heroic Prince Rama and his allies, and their universe-rattling battle with the villainous demon king Totsakan and his unruly cohorts.’
    • ‘Mr Johnnie Walker, on the other hand, is a villainous incorporation of bloodthirsty evil as he murders cats, devours their hearts live and deep freezes their heads.’
    • ‘Quite apart from the power of denial, they also were under the control of a corrupt and villainous mayor for many years.’
    • ‘Well, with my vast fortune stolen by the villainous high-way-man Black Scarlet, I must once again make my way in the world.’
    • ‘What barbarous, villainous, and depraved acts did he commit that labor leaders and heads of national liberal groups denounce him as the enemy of minorities, the poor, women, and the environment?’
    • ‘Jobless and destitute of funds, McClean enlists with the Black Knight Legion, a band of villainous mercenaries driven by the acquisition of financial gain.’
    • ‘Just as the novel rewards villainous behavior, so it promotes guilty identification that allows the reader to enjoy moral transgression by association.’
    wicked, evil, iniquitous, sinful, nefarious, vile, foul, monstrous, shocking, outrageous, atrocious, abominable, reprehensible, hateful, detestable, despicable, odious, contemptible, horrible, heinous, execrable, diabolical, diabolic, fiendish, vicious, murderous, barbarous, black, dark, rotten
    View synonyms
  • 2informal Extremely bad or unpleasant.

    ‘a villainous smell’
    • ‘Even The Beatles, who had learned their trade in the villainous atmosphere of Hamburg's Star Club, were eased into suits and smiles for consumption by the genteel British public.’
    • ‘Owen backed up a step as Solstice rubbed up against him, indulging in a villainous grin.’
    • ‘His black mustache-goatee-beard combo made him look a little more villainous, or perhaps a little more dashing.’
    • ‘Nurse, my former care-giver who ran off with the villainous Black Scarlet.’
    • ‘But its lessons, on closer examination, are less straightforward than the clichés of the doomed inventor and the villainous mogul might suggest.’
    • ‘He shot Janine a villainous grin as he pulled the car from his parking spot, she gave him an unamused look, but it became a playful grin seconds later.’
    • ‘‘Not really,’ I shook my head, feeling that villainous grin coming back to me.’
    • ‘Victor, a tall wiry man with beady eyes and a villainous curly black goatee, announced calmly, unsmiling.’
    • ‘Even in the nineteenth century a dean of Westminster Abbey refused to allow a plaque honouring the villainous author of Paradise Lost to stain the abbey's walls, although later deans allowed a bust in Poet's Corner.’