full of menacing or malign influences; pernicious.
Obsolete. wretched; miserable.

Origin of baleful

before 1000; Middle English; Old English bealofull. See bale2, -ful
Related formsbale·ful·ly, adverbbale·ful·ness, noun
Can be confusedbaleful baneful

Synonyms for baleful Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for baleful

Contemporary Examples of baleful

Historical Examples of baleful

  • Of all mortal possessions they are the most useless, mischievous, and baleful.


    William Godwin

  • THEN the baleful fiend its fire belched out, and bright homes burned.



  • Richard paled under the baronet's baleful, half-sneering glance.

    Mistress Wilding

    Rafael Sabatini

  • Gian Maria returned him no answer, but his baleful eye was upon Martino.


    Raphael Sabatini

  • As he disappeared her beautiful face darkened with a baleful cloud.

    Victor's Triumph

    Mrs. E. D. E. N. Southworth

British Dictionary definitions for baleful



harmful, menacing, or vindictive
archaic dejected
Derived Formsbalefully, adverbbalefulness, noun
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

Word Origin and History for baleful

Old English bealu-full "dire, wicked, cruel," from bealu "harm, injury, ruin, evil, mischief, wickedness, a noxious thing," from Proto-Germanic *balwom (cf. Old Saxon balu, Old Frisian balu "evil," Old High German balo "destruction," Old Norse bol, Gothic balwjan "to torment"), from PIE root *bheleu- "to beat." During Anglo-Saxon times, the noun was in poetic use only (e.g. bealubenn "mortal wound," bealuðonc "evil thought"), and for long baleful was extinct, but it was revived by modern romantic poets. Related: Balefully.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper