Try Our Apps


Famous Last Words


[vil-uh n] /ˈvɪl ən/
a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel.
a character in a play, novel, or the like, who constitutes an important evil agency in the plot.
Origin of villain
1275-1325; Middle English vilein, vilain < Middle French < Late Latin villānus a farm servant. See villa, -an
Related forms
subvillain, noun
undervillain, noun
Can be confused
villain, villein.
1. knave, rascal, rapscallion, rogue, scamp. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for villain
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You did well in bringing him with you, for an honest man must not fall a victim to a villain.

    Stronghand Gustave Aimard
  • If Smaltz had been the villain of fiction, he would have been a coward as well.

    The Man from the Bitter Roots Caroline Lockhart
  • The answer to this question determined Miss Westbrook to preserve the dear child from a villain.

    The Real Shelley, Vol. I (of 2) John Cordy Jeaffreson
  • Arthur Manley whom a villain tries to ruin, is the hero of this book.

    Lilith Ada Langworthy Collier
  • My service, villain, with a fatal curse, That direful plagues and mischief fall on thee.

    Witch, Warlock, and Magician William Henry Davenport Adams
British Dictionary definitions for villain


a wicked or malevolent person
(in a novel, play, film, etc) the main evil character and antagonist to the hero
(often jocular) a mischievous person; rogue
(Brit, police slang) a criminal
(history) a variant spelling of villein
(obsolete) an uncouth person; boor
Derived Forms
villainess, noun:feminine
Word Origin
C14: from Old French vilein serf, from Late Latin vīllānus worker on a country estate, from Latin: villa
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for villain

c.1300, "base or low-born rustic," from Anglo-French and Old French villain, from Medieval Latin villanus "farmhand," from Latin villa "country house" (see villa).

The most important phases of the sense development of this word may be summed up as follows: 'inhabitant of a farm; peasant; churl, boor; clown; miser; knave, scoundrel.' Today both Fr. vilain and Eng. villain are used only in a pejorative sense. [Klein]
Meaning "character in a novel, play, etc. whose evil motives or actions help drive the plot" is from 1822.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for villain

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for villain

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for villain