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[beyn] /beɪn/
a person or thing that ruins or spoils:
Gambling was the bane of his existence.
a deadly poison (often used in combination, as in the names of poisonous plants):
wolfsbane; henbane.
death; destruction; ruin.
Obsolete. that which causes death or destroys life:
entrapped and drowned beneath the watery bane.
Origin of bane
before 1000; Middle English; Old English bana slayer; cognate with Old Norse bani death, murderer, Old Frisian bona murder, Old Saxon bano murderer, Old High German bano slayer, bana death; akin to Old English benn, Gothic banja wound Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for bane
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Outsiders are the bane of the police as of other professions.

    The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad
  • These garments, made by my mother's own hands, had long been the bane of my existence.

    In the Valley Harold Frederic
  • Every bane has its corresponding antidote; if so, there may be physic even for a philter.

    The Comic Latin Grammar Percival Leigh
  • It was the bane of a low connexion poisoned all hope of recovery.

    Luttrell Of Arran Charles James Lever
  • The scorn of that old woman at Houghton, had been the bane of her existence.

British Dictionary definitions for bane


a person or thing that causes misery or distress (esp in the phrase bane of one's life)
something that causes death or destruction
  1. a fatal poison
  2. (in combination): ratsbane
(archaic) ruin or distress
Word Origin
Old English bana; related to Old Norse bani death, Old High German bano destruction, death


/ben; beɪn/
a Scot word for bone
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for bane

Old English bana "killer, slayer, murderer; the devil," from Proto-Germanic *banon, cognate with *banja- "wound" (cf. Old Frisian bona "murderer," Old Norse bani, Old High German bana "murder," Old English benn "wound," Gothic banja "stroke, wound"), from PIE root *gwhen- "to strike, kill, wound" (cf. Avestan banta "ill"). Modern sense of "that which causes ruin or woe" is from 1570s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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