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See more synonyms for bane on Thesaurus.com
  1. a person or thing that ruins or spoils: Gambling was the bane of his existence.
  2. a deadly poison (often used in combination, as in the names of poisonous plants): wolfsbane; henbane.
  3. death; destruction; ruin.
  4. Obsolete. that which causes death or destroys life: entrapped and drowned beneath the watery bane.
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for bane

ruination, undoing, disaster, downfall, torment, affliction, nuisance, curse, ruin, poison, venom, woe, blight, plague, burden, trouble, destruction, scourge, trial, calamity

Examples from the Web for bane

Contemporary Examples of bane

Historical Examples of bane

  • 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.

  • 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


  1. a person or thing that causes misery or distress (esp in the phrase bane of one's life)
  2. something that causes death or destruction
    1. a fatal poison
    2. (in combination)ratsbane
  3. archaic ruin or distress
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Word Origin for bane

Old English bana; related to Old Norse bani death, Old High German bano destruction, death


  1. a Scot word for bone
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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 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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper