Definition of evil noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈiːvl//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈiːvl//
    ; BrE BrE//ˈiːvɪl//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈiːvɪl//
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  1. 1  [uncountable] a force that causes bad things to happen; morally bad behaviour the eternal struggle between good and evil the forces of evil You cannot pretend there's no evil in the world. opposite good
  2. 2  [countable, usually plural] a bad or harmful thing; the bad effect of something the evils of drugs/alcohol social evils
  3. Word OriginOld English yfel, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch euvel and German Übel.Extra examples He calls war ‘a necessary evil’. He sees money as the root of all evil. His simple message was that God will punish those that do evil. This sort of job is a lesser evil than unemployment. You can always choose to resist evil. a duty to defeat the evil of terrorism a perpetual struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil combating the social evils of poverty, disease and ignorance not a simple choice between good and evil the intrinsic evil of taking a human life the pure evil in his soul He believed he could rid the world of the forces of evil. Humans have the capacity to do more evil than any other species on earth. The film is about the eternal struggle between good and evil. They hardly mentioned such social evils as racism and sexism. We were warned against the evils of drugs. You cannot pretend there’s no evil in the world.Idioms
    the lesser of two evils, the lesser evil
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    the less unpleasant of two unpleasant choices
    a thing that is bad or that you do not like but which you must accept for a particular reason The loss of jobs is regarded as a necessary evil in the fight against inflation.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: evil