Definition of evil in English:


See synonyms for evil

Translate evil into Spanish


  • 1Profoundly immoral and wicked.

    ‘his evil deeds’
    • ‘no man is so evil as to be beyond redemption’
    wicked, bad, wrong, morally wrong, wrongful, immoral, sinful, ungodly, unholy, foul, vile, base, ignoble, dishonourable, corrupt, iniquitous, depraved, degenerate, villainous, nefarious, sinister, vicious, malicious, malevolent, demonic, devilish, diabolic, diabolical, fiendish, dark, black-hearted
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1(of a force or spirit) embodying or associated with the forces of the devil.
      • ‘we were driven out of the house by an evil spirit’
    2. 1.2Harmful or tending to harm.
      • ‘stories about the evil effects of television on children make good copy’
      unlucky, unfortunate, unfavourable, adverse, unhappy, disastrous, catastrophic, ruinous, calamitous, unpropitious, inauspicious, dire, woeful
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3(of a smell or sight) extremely unpleasant.
      • ‘a bathroom with an ineradicably evil smell’
      unpleasant, disagreeable, nasty, horrible, foul, filthy, vile
      View synonyms



/ˈēv(ə)l/ /ˈiv(ə)l/


  • 1Profound immorality and wickedness, especially when regarded as a supernatural force.

    ‘the world is stalked by relentless evil’
    • ‘good and evil in eternal opposition’
    • ‘Righting wrongs and fighting evil, corruption, wickedness and stupidity is just part time work.’
    • ‘All of which would suggest that a film which casts spiders as the malevolent force of evil would be a natural fit for a when nature attacks horror movie.’
    • ‘Watch them battle the forces of evil in the guise of a smiling clown.’
    • ‘And we hold you up in pride as our symbol in the fight of Good against the forces of darkness and evil.’
    • ‘Too bad the actor does not believe in liberating people from the forces of evil in the real world.’
    • ‘In short, I tend to think the modern empire is fueled by greed and power and fear and other vestigial ape-politics, rather than some dark forces of ritualistic evil.’
    • ‘The war that waged between the forces of good and evil would be filled with bloody battles and in accordance to the winner, the balance would shift.’
    • ‘I believe that my dharma is to prove that the Force for Good takes precedence over the force for evil in mankind.’
    • ‘Military force defeats evil in comic books and at the movies.’
    • ‘What forces of evil could so cloud the minds of the designers that they would put the volume controls down a level from the main menu?’
    • ‘And then, just when victory would be at its closest, the forces of evil would surround him.’
    • ‘They are still recovering from their battle with the forces of evil who sought to destroy all who live in the great house.’
    • ‘Heroic deeds reinforce the bonds of the human condition in ways that resist the forces of terror and evil.’
    • ‘The forces of good and evil in the world have strengths and weaknesses such that neither side can vanquish the other.’
    • ‘But a culture that is consciously bent on rejecting moral norms is on a collision course with profound evil.’
    • ‘You follow the trail all the way back to, yep, supernatural evil, a hidden dark lord, whatever.’
    • ‘It is time for goodness and Godliness to triumph once more over wickedness and evil.’
    • ‘These characters may be incarnates of some supernatural evil, but it's not likely.’
    • ‘You have won a place in this world, but remember, the last to hold it was filled with wickedness and evil.’
    wickedness, bad, badness, wrong, wrongdoing, sin, sinfulness, ungodliness, immorality, vice, iniquity, turpitude, degeneracy, vileness, baseness, perversion, corruption, depravity, villainy, nefariousness, atrocity, malevolence, devilishness
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A manifestation of profound immorality and wickedness, especially in people's actions.
      ‘the evil that took place last Thursday’
      • ‘Next will be that perennial complaint by predictable hand wringers that children's toy advertising is a modern evil of biblical proportions.’
      • ‘I implore the May Day protesters to worry about real problems, rather than just labelling everything as an evil of capitalism.’
      • ‘There are indications that romantic aberrations are becoming more and more an evil of underprivileged people.’
      • ‘An evil of unimaginable proportions has been unleashed.’
      • ‘The evil of entrusting our liberty to politicians is compounded by a lack of independent safeguards or transparency.’
      • ‘All of the priests I interviewed saw witchcraft as an intrinsic evil of the post-colonial economy.’
      • ‘But the whole business of slavery is an evil of the first magnitude, and a most horrible iniquity to traffic with slaves and souls of men; and an evil.’
      • ‘The evil of these acts is almost too much to comprehend.’
      • ‘So for days I ate turkey, feebly rationalizing that I wouldn't add the evil of waste to the evil of the murder of the poor birds, who by then were beyond pain.’
      • ‘It protects me from the evil of surveillance - by officials, by the unwanted gaze of strangers, by anyone I chose to remain anonymous from.’
      • ‘The Alliance will continue to use our powers for the good of promoting these two, rather than for the evil of working against those we don't want to win.’
      • ‘Many people have made the point that the Holocaust is not simply a terrible historical event, but a reminder for everyone of the evil of which humans are capable.’
      • ‘And he spoke candidly of the whole Catholic Church in this country being ‘tainted with the evil of child abuse’.’
      • ‘He regarded vampirism as a curse, and the ultimate evil was to force it on someone unwilling.’
      abomination, atrocity, obscenity, outrage, enormity, crime, monstrosity, barbarity, barbarism
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Something which is harmful or undesirable.
      ‘the various social evils of our modern world’
      • ‘It is a minor skin problem yet it is considered a social evil.’
      • ‘We are responsible to God if by our carelessness or neglect we lead our children into a life or crime or other social evils.’
      • ‘He had rendered an unrelenting battle against the social evils which was taken up by his disciples later.’
      • ‘He urged the people to cooperate the district administration in its fight against social evils.’
      • ‘To cope with such social evils, people spend money on more expensive products.’
      • ‘The protection of young people from smoking and other social evils are our responsibility.’
      • ‘I owe the media thanks for acting like a mirror in exposing those social evils such as corruption.’
      • ‘The course focuses on systemic evils and the social contexts that produce them.’
      • ‘Issues such as suicides of farmers, pollution and social evils are often the subjects.’
      • ‘The blow by blow attack on social evils was delineated through other forms of folk art too.’
      • ‘It was a forced response, albeit a generous one, to the social evils that the hurricane had exposed.’
      • ‘In a bold but lucid way he lays bare the social evils and rampant corruption in those times.’
      • ‘This is the latest episode in the vilification of videogames, which overnight has become a social evil up there with guns, pornography, and smoking.’
      • ‘Alms-giving should be eradicated as a social evil like untouchability.’
      • ‘Professionals who excel in their field but become edentulous when they come up against a social evil.’
      • ‘She just doesn't get it - the depiction of family dysfunction is not a social evil.’
      • ‘Where in the world has the African culture regarded the practice of homosexuality as a social evil?’
      • ‘These evils are extraordinarily difficult to prove in particular cases.’
      • ‘Hopefully the Biblical passage above will serve to act as a timely reminder of the evils and perils of dancing.’
      harm, pain, hurt, misery, sorrow, suffering, trauma, trouble, disaster, detriment, destruction, loss, misfortune, catastrophe, calamity, affliction, woe, ruin, hardship
      View synonyms



/ˈēv(ə)l/ /ˈiv(ə)l/


    give someone the evils
    British informal
    • Glare at someone.

      • ‘a bus driver gave me the evils when I paid with a note’
      • ‘His mum gave me the evils from her bedroom window.’
      • ‘Her little sister (adorable little six year old who keeps falling over and making me laugh) gave me the evils because I was taking her big sis away for the evening.’
      • ‘I had my little sister Marianne in the car with me, so I said, "Stare at him as we drive past; give him the evils!"’
      • ‘And my cat is giving me the evils’
      • ‘She gave me the evils when I looked at her!’
      • ‘I gave them the evils until they got the message.’
      • ‘I gave them the evils so they knew I was angry.’
      • ‘Great pics too although they are definitely giving you the evils in that first one.’
      • ‘I sat there and gave her the evils for a few minutes but she never looked up.’
      • ‘I still gave her the evils though, even when she boarded the train before ours.’
    put off the evil day
    • Postpone something unpleasant for as long as possible.

      ‘it is too easy for children to put off the evil day when they have to get down to work’
      • ‘This is one of the earlier outdoor festivals on the calendar and, unfortunately, the dedicated committee, who have organised six highly successful Féiles so far, did not have the luxury of putting off the evil day.’
      • ‘But I am convinced that the right course adjustment now is better than dithering or putting off the evil day: sooner or later, even greater disruption, and perhaps worse, would follow.’
      • ‘The government is putting off the evil day of spending money at direct cost to the individuals who live along the coast.’
      • ‘The easiest route for some seems to be to plan well ahead for another career, in other words, not to face the blank appointments diary at all but put off the evil day for some more years.’
      • ‘Your Honour, in relation to the consequences, can I just say that if the case had any strength, the application would not be opposed but it does have a look of putting off the evil day.’
      • ‘The motive for trying to prolong a detailed assessment, namely putting off the evil day when payment has to be made, will be considerably reduced when he who has to pay can only put off the evil day in respect of a considerably reduced sum.’
      • ‘Experience in other jurisdictions shows that those on trial are only too willing to put off the evil day by taking ‘interlocutory’ points to appeal.’
      • ‘Even taking this line may only put off the evil day.’
      • ‘The only thing managers can do is to try to put off the evil day by hook or crook.’
      • ‘In practice, greater accuracy can only put off the evil day by an insignificant amount.’
    speak evil of
    • Slander.

      ‘it is a sin to speak evil of the king’
      • ‘Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.’
      • ‘But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in My Name, that can lightly speak evil of Me.’
      • ‘They never spoke evil of each other, and acted civil towards one another, which was an advantage for everyone.’
      • ‘Second, Paul suggests that believers in this revitalization movement should act toward others with courtesy, concern, and kindness to avoid quarreling and speaking evil of them.’
      • ‘Everyone was in the lounge, still speaking evil of the mysterious guest.’
      • ‘This last example was a particularly sensitive one for Luther, who took the time to explain to his congregation why he could speak evil of the pope and not break this commandment - he did it by virtue of his office as teacher of the church!’
      • ‘Those who have the least will have the best chance to flourish in an environment free from daily assault by employers and occupying forces, neighbors and those who speak evil of them.’
      • ‘And no one who does anything good, anything wondrous, or a deed of power will be able to soon afterward to speak evil of me.’
      • ‘The world could speak evil of Him and it would not shake your confidence in Him, in the least!’
      • ‘I, too, shamelessly spoke evil of people behind their backs.’
    the Evil One
    • The Devil.

      ‘Remember that the Evil One is ruling over a community of noble savages, peace-loving people whose only problem is that they are oppressed by the Evil One.’
      • ‘Each of my paintings is like a book, exposing the tricks of the Evil One, revealing hidden truths through metaphoric symbols, hidden passages and written text.’
      • ‘But he puts it from him as a temptation of the Evil One, makes public confession on the pillory which had been the scene of Hester's shame, and dies in her arms.’
      • ‘Or if you fall for the siren song of the Evil One, you're going to be drained dry and cast into the pit of flames in due course.’
    the evil eye
    • A gaze or stare superstitiously believed to cause material harm.

      ‘he gave me the evil eye as I walked down the corridor’
      • ‘About half of Bulgarians believe in telepathy, the evil eye and black magic, and that dreams can be prophetic.’
      • ‘The superstitious belief in the evil eye is ancient and widespread, though certainly not universal.’
      • ‘Nor does he believe in the evil eye, bad omen, and that kind of stuff.’
      • ‘It is believed that the evil eye can be counteracted by many different protective and curative measures.’
      • ‘I met one who said he was a white magic man, that he undid the evil eye and black magic spells, got rid of mischief from co-wives and restored potency to men.’
      • ‘The misconceptions include black magic, witchcraft, evil eye and being possessed by a spirit.’
      • ‘Many Tamils also worship village deities, and believe in such popular superstitions as spirits and the evil eye.’
      • ‘Before then, it might have been witchcraft or the evil eye.’
      • ‘He could tell she didn't believe him, and began to give him the evil eye.’
      • ‘Male children are believed to be particularly vulnerable to the evil eye.’


Old English yfel, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch euvel and German Übel.