[ beyl-fuhl ]
/ ˈbeɪl fəl /


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

Nearby words

  1. balearic islands,
  2. baleboste,
  3. baleen,
  4. baleen whale,
  5. balefire,
  6. balefully,
  7. balenciaga,
  8. balenciaga, cristóbal,
  9. baler,
  10. balestra

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

Examples from the Web for baleful

British Dictionary definitions for baleful


/ (ˈbeɪlfʊl) /


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