What does evil mean?

Definitions for evil
ˈi vəlevil

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word evil.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. evil, immorality, wickedness, iniquitynoun

    morally objectionable behavior

  2. evilnoun

    that which causes harm or destruction or misfortune

    "the evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones"- Shakespeare

  3. evil, evilnessadjective

    the quality of being morally wrong in principle or practice

    "attempts to explain the origin of evil in the world"

  4. eviladjective

    morally bad or wrong

    "evil purposes"; "an evil influence"; "evil deeds"

  5. evil, viciousadjective

    having the nature of vice

  6. malefic, malevolent, malign, eviladjective

    having or exerting a malignant influence

    "malevolent stars"; "a malefic force"


  1. evilnoun

    The forces/behaviors that are the opposite or enemy of good. Evil generally seeks own benefit at the expense of others and is based on general malevolence.

    The evils of society include murder.

  2. evilnoun

    Any particular individual or state which may follow these forces or behaviors.

  3. eviladjective

    Intending to harm; malevolent.

  4. eviladjective

    Morally corrupt.

  5. eviladjective


  6. Etymology: yfel, from ubilaz (compare East Frisian eeuwel, Dutch euvel, German übel), from *hupélos, diminutive of hu̯op 'treat badly' (compare huwappi 'to mistreat, harass', huwappa 'evil, badness').

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. EVILadjective

    Etymology: ywel, Saxon; cuvel, Dutch.

    He hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel. Deut. xxii. 19.

    An evil disease cleaveth fast unto him; and now that he lieth, he shall rise up no more. Ps. xli. 8.

    The good fig’s very good, and the evil very evil, that cannot be eaten they are so evil. Jeremiah xxiv. 3.

    That hour he cured many of evil spirits. Luke vii. 21.

    Is thine eye evil, because I am good? Matt. xx. 15.

    The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Gen.

    And the officers did see that they were in evil case. Ex. v.

    All the days of the afflicted are evil. Prov. xv. 15.

    It is my son’s coat; an evil beast hath devoured him. Gen.

  2. Eviladverb

    Etymology: commonly contracted to ill.

    Ah, forward Clarence, evil it beseems thee,
    To flatter Henry, and forsake thy brother! William Shakespeare, Hen. VI.

    If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me. John xviii. 22.

    It went evil with his house. Deut. vii. 23.

    The Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us. Deut. xxvi.

  3. Evilnoun

    generally contracted to ill.

    Not in the legions
    Of horrid hell can come a devil more damn’d
    In evils to top Macbeth. William Shakespeare, Macbeth.

    Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house. Prov. xvii. 13.

    Let thine enemies, and they that seek evil to my Lord, be as Nabal. 1 Sa. xxv. 26.

    The heart of the sons of men is full of evil. Eccles. ix. 3.

    Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil. Job ii. 10.

    A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself. Prov.

    If we will stand boggling at imaginary evils, let us never blame a horse for starting at a shadow. Roger L'Estrange.

    Evil is what is apt to produce or increase any pain, or diminish any pleasure in us; or else to procure us any evil, or deprive us of any good. John Locke.

    At his touch,
    Such sanctity hath heaven given his hand,
    They presently amend.
    ———— What’s the disease he means?
    ———— ’Tis call’d the evil. William Shakespeare, Macbeth.


  1. evil

    A mirrorless camera is a photo camera featuring a single, removable lens and a digital display. The camera does not have a reflex mirror or optical viewfinder like a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera, but may have an electronic viewfinder. Many mirrorless cameras retain a mechanical shutter. Like a DSLR, a mirrorless camera accepts any of a series of interchangeable lenses compatible with its lens mount.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Eviladjective

    having qualities tending to injury and mischief; having a nature or properties which tend to badness; mischievous; not good; worthless or deleterious; poor; as, an evil beast; and evil plant; an evil crop

  2. Eviladjective

    having or exhibiting bad moral qualities; morally corrupt; wicked; wrong; vicious; as, evil conduct, thoughts, heart, words, and the like

  3. Eviladjective

    producing or threatening sorrow, distress, injury, or calamity; unpropitious; calamitous; as, evil tidings; evil arrows; evil days

  4. Evilnoun

    anything which impairs the happiness of a being or deprives a being of any good; anything which causes suffering of any kind to sentient beings; injury; mischief; harm; -- opposed to good

  5. Evilnoun

    moral badness, or the deviation of a moral being from the principles of virtue imposed by conscience, or by the will of the Supreme Being, or by the principles of a lawful human authority; disposition to do wrong; moral offence; wickedness; depravity

  6. Evilnoun

    malady or disease; especially in the phrase king's evil, the scrofula

  7. Eviladverb

    in an evil manner; not well; ill; badly; unhappily; injuriously; unkindly


  1. Evil

    Evil is profound immorality. In certain religious contexts evil has been described as a supernatural force. Definitions of evil vary, as does the analysis of its root motives and causes. However elements that are commonly associated with evil involve unbalanced behavior involving expediency, selfishness, ignorance, or neglect. In cultures with Manichaean and Abrahamic religious influence, evil is usually perceived as the dualistic antagonistic opposite of good, in which good should prevail and evil should be defeated. In cultures with Buddhist spiritual influence, both good and evil are perceived as part of an antagonistic duality that itself must be overcome through achieving Śūnyatā meaning emptiness in the sense of recognition of good and evil being two opposing principles but not a reality, emptying the duality of them, and achieving a oneness. The philosophical question of whether morality is absolute or relative leads to questions about the nature of evil, with views falling into one of four opposed camps: moral absolutism, amoralism, moral relativism, and moral universalism. While the term is applied to events and conditions without agency, the forms of evil addressed in this article presume an evildoer or doers.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Evil

    ē′vl, adj. wicked: mischievous: disagreeable: unfortunate.—adv. in an evil manner: badly.—n. that which produces unhappiness or calamity: harm: wickedness: depravity: sin.—ns. E′vil-do′er, one who does evil; E′vil-eye, a supposed power to cause evil or harm by the look of the eye.—adj. E′vil-fā′voured, having a repulsive appearance: ugly.—n. E′vil-fā′vouredness (B.), ugliness: deformity.—adv. E′villy, in an evil manner: not well.—adj. E′vil-mind′ed, inclined to evil: malicious: wicked.—ns. E′vilness, state of being evil: wickedness; E′vil-speak′ing, the speaking of evil: slander.—adj. E′vil-starred (Tenn.), born under the influence of an unpropitious star, unfortunate.—n. E′vil-work′er, one who works or does evil.—The Evil One, the devil.—Speak evil of, to slander. [A.S. yfel; Dut. euvel; Ger. übel. Ill is a doublet.]

The New Hacker's Dictionary

  1. evil

    As used by hackers, implies that some system, program, person, or institution is sufficiently maldesigned as to be not worth the bother of dealing with. Unlike the adjectives in the cretinous/losing/brain-damaged series, evil does not imply incompetence or bad design, but rather a set of goals or design criteria fatally incompatible with the speaker's. This usage is more an esthetic and engineering judgment than a moral one in the mainstream sense. “We thought about adding a Blue Glue interface but decided it was too evil to deal with.” “TECO is neat, but it can be pretty evil if you're prone to typos.” Often pronounced with the first syllable lengthened, as /eeee'vil/. Compare evil and rude.

Suggested Resources

  1. evil

    Song lyrics by evil -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by evil on the Lyrics.com website.

  2. EVIL

    What does EVIL stand for? -- Explore the various meanings for the EVIL acronym on the Abbreviations.com website.

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'evil' in Nouns Frequency: #2193

  2. Adjectives Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'evil' in Adjectives Frequency: #749

Anagrams for evil »

  1. Levi

  2. live

  3. veil

  4. vile

  5. vlei

How to pronounce evil?

How to say evil in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of evil in Chaldean Numerology is: 6

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of evil in Pythagorean Numerology is: 3

Examples of evil in a Sentence

  1. Roy Moore:

    We are in the midst of a spiritual battle with those who want to silence our message, the forces of evil will lie, cheat, steal – even inflict physical harm – if they believe it will silence and shut up Christian conservatives like you and me.

  2. Ralph Waldo Emerson:

    Every sweet has its sour every evil its good.

  3. Clare Bronfman:

    I’m happy to see that justice is going to be served and for the victims of Allison Mack they will have their chance to face their abuser, i am waiting for Nancy Salzman to be sentenced. She should have gone to prison along with Keith and Claire [Bronfman], and in my opinion she should get the same amount of time as her Vanguard, life. He truly would have never been able to do what he did without Nancy Salzman and her ‘NLP skills.' She knew what he was from day one, and he knew what she was, evil just like him.

  4. Wilbur Ross:

    Amazon and the other e-commerce companies didn't get to be the world's biggest by any evil mechanism. They got there because they are extremely efficient.

  5. Sheldon Rheaume:

    This isn’t an evil rifle, it’s a tool.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for evil

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    a (usually canopied) seat for riding on the back of a camel or elephant
    • A. urus
    • B. volubility
    • C. macron
    • D. howdah

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