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.

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. 2018

Examples from the Web for banes

Contemporary Examples of banes

Historical Examples of banes

  • O'Rourke snorted disgustedly: "Lave it to Bhoynton to shpill the banes!"


    Charles Goff Thomson

  • Leucorrhea is one of the banes of the modern girl and woman.


    William J. Robinson

  • The next minute the mate was face to face with Captain Banes.

    Old Gold

    George Manville Fenn

  • The mate did not stir till he had seen Captain Banes on board.

    Old Gold

    George Manville Fenn

  • I shall give way to the extent of asking Captain Banes to let him go with us.

    Old Gold

    George Manville Fenn

British Dictionary definitions for banes


  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

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
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 banes



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