SKIP TO CONTENT

evil

Evil is the opposite of good. We usually think of villains as evil — wrong, immoral and nasty on many levels — and heroes as good.

This word is often reserved for our most terrible crimes and criminals: Adolf Hitler is usually the face of evil in history, while Voldemort is that face in recent literature. Evil can be less extreme, meaning simply anything that brings harm; we can talk about the evils of alcohol or the evils of power. When both major candidates for President seem lame, people often say they're choosing between the lesser of two evils. Not all evils are equally evil.

Definitions of evil
  1. adjective
    morally bad or wrong
    evil purposes”
    “an evil influence”
    evil deeds”
    Synonyms:
    bad
    having undesirable or negative qualities
    atrocious, flagitious, grievous, monstrous
    shockingly brutal or cruel
    bad
    characterized by wickedness or immorality
    dark, sinister
    stemming from evil characteristics or forces; wicked or dishonorable
    corruptive, perversive, pestiferous
    tending to corrupt or pervert
    demonic, diabolic, diabolical, fiendish, hellish, infernal, satanic, unholy
    extremely evil or cruel; expressive of cruelty or befitting hell
    despicable, slimy, ugly, unworthy, vile, worthless, wretched
    morally reprehensible
    devilish, diabolic, diabolical, mephistophelean, mephistophelian
    showing the cunning or ingenuity or wickedness typical of a devil
    evil-minded
    having evil thoughts or intentions
    immoral
    deliberately violating accepted principles of right and wrong
    offensive
    unpleasant or disgusting especially to the senses
    wrong
    contrary to conscience or morality or law
    unrighteous
    not righteous
    wicked
    morally bad in principle or practice
    see moresee less
    Antonyms:
    good
    morally admirable
    good
    having desirable or positive qualities especially those suitable for a thing specified
    angelic, angelical, beatific, sainted, saintlike, saintly
    marked by utter benignity; resembling or befitting an angel or saint
    goody-goody
    affectedly or smugly good or self-righteous
    redeeming, redemptive, saving
    bringing about salvation or redemption from sin
    white
    benevolent; without malicious intent
    moral
    concerned with principles of right and wrong or conforming to standards of behavior and character based on those principles
    right
    in conformance with justice or law or morality
    righteous
    characterized by or proceeding from accepted standards of morality or justice
    virtuous
    morally excellent
    worthy
    having worth or merit or value; being honorable or admirable
    show more antonyms...
  2. adjective
    having or exerting a malignant influence
    synonyms: malefic, malevolent, malign
    maleficent
    harmful or evil in intent or effect
  3. adjective
    having the nature of vice
    synonyms: vicious
    wicked
    morally bad in principle or practice
  4. noun
    morally objectionable behavior
    synonyms: immorality, iniquity, wickedness
    see moresee less
    types:
    show 5 types...
    hide 5 types...
    devilry, deviltry
    wicked and cruel behavior
    foul play
    unfair or dishonest behavior (especially involving violence)
    irreverence, violation
    a disrespectful act
    sexual immorality
    the evil ascribed to sexual acts that violate social conventions
    blasphemy, desecration, profanation, sacrilege
    blasphemous behavior; the act of depriving something of its sacred character
    type of:
    evildoing, transgression
    the act of transgressing; the violation of a law or a duty or moral principle
  5. noun
    the quality of being morally wrong in principle or practice
    “attempts to explain the origin of evil in the world”
    synonyms: evilness
    see moresee less
    Antonyms:
    good, goodness
    moral excellence or admirableness
    types:
    show 15 types...
    hide 15 types...
    malevolence, malevolency, malice
    the quality of threatening evil
    malignance, malignancy, malignity
    the quality of being disposed to evil; intense ill will
    balefulness, maleficence, mischief
    the quality or nature of being harmful or evil
    worst
    the greatest damage or wickedness of which one is capable
    nefariousness, ugliness, vileness, wickedness
    the quality of being wicked
    reprehensibility
    being reprehensible; worthy of and deserving reprehension or reproof
    villainousness, villainy
    the quality of evil by virtue of villainous behavior
    perverseness, perversity
    deliberately deviating from what is good
    error, wrongdoing
    departure from what is ethically acceptable
    frailty, vice
    moral weakness
    bitchiness, cattiness, nastiness, spite, spitefulness
    malevolence by virtue of being malicious or spiteful or nasty
    cruelness, cruelty, harshness
    the quality of being cruel and causing tension or annoyance
    beastliness, meanness
    the quality of being deliberately mean
    filthiness
    moral corruption or pollution
    enormity
    the quality of extreme wickedness
    type of:
    immorality
    the quality of not being in accord with standards of right or good conduct
  6. noun
    that which causes harm or destruction or misfortune
    “the evil that men do lives after them”
    see moresee less
    types:
    Four Horsemen
    (New Testament) the four evils that will come at the end of the world: conquest rides a white horse; war a red horse; famine a black horse; plague a pale horse
    type of:
    bad, badness
    that which is below standard or expectations as of ethics or decency
Word Family
EDITOR’S CHOICE

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.

SAT/PSAT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

TOEFL

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

ACT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week