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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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




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 for bane

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




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

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