baleful, baneful
These two somewhat literary words are not much used in everyday language; baleful is slightly better known perhaps than baneful. Since they overlap in meaning, they tend to be confused. Baleful (from bale, ‘misery’) means ‘having an evil influence’ or ‘menacing’, and is used in particular of people's presence or appearance, whereas baneful (from bane, poison) developed from its earlier meaning ‘poisonous’ to ‘causing harm or ruin’. Examples: (baleful)

• The baleful presence of his father in the house was like a constant reproach —R. Hayman, 1981

• Foghorns boom in still longer and lower choruses of baleful warning —Iain Banks, 1986

• (baneful) The baneful memory of that night haunted her, sometimes tormented her —Iris Murdoch, 1987.

Baleful is the more likely to be needed in spoken English, especially with reference to looks and glances.

Modern English usage. 2014.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Baneful — Bane ful, a. Having poisonous qualities; deadly; destructive; injurious; noxious; pernicious. Baneful hemlock. Garth. Baneful wrath. Chapman. [1913 Webster] {Bane ful*ly}, adv. {Bane ful*ness}, n. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • baneful — I adjective bad, baleful, corrosive, damaging, dangerous, deadly, deleterious, destructive, detrimental, disadvantageous, disastrous, disserviceable, evil, fatal, harmful, heinous, hostile, hurtful, insalubrious, injurious, lethal, malevolent,… …   Law dictionary

  • baneful — *pernicious, noxious, deleterious, detrimental Analogous words: harmful, injurious, mischievous, hurtful (see corresponding nouns at INJURY): malign, *sinister, baleful: *poisonous, venomous, toxic Antonyms: beneficial Contrasted words:… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • baneful — [adj] ruinous, injurious baleful, calamitous, deadly, deleterious, destructive, disastrous, evil, fatal, harmful, hurtful, malefic, noxious, pernicious, pestilent, pestilential, poisonous, venomous, wicked; concepts 537,570 Ant. advantageous,… …   New thesaurus

  • baneful — [bān′fəl] adj. causing distress, death, or ruin; deadly SYN. PERNICIOUS banefully adv …   English World dictionary

  • baneful — banefully, adv. banefulness, n. /bayn feuhl/, adj. 1. destructive; pernicious: a baneful superstition. 2. deadly; poisonous: baneful herbs. [1570 80; BANE + FUL] Syn. harmful, noxious; venomous, toxic. * * * …   Universalium

  • baneful — /ˈbeɪnfəl/ (say baynfuhl) adjective destructive; pernicious; poisonous: a baneful superstition; baneful herbs. –banefully, adverb …  

  • baneful — adjective Date: 1579 1. productive of destruction or woe ; seriously harmful < a baneful influence > 2. archaic poisonous Synonyms: see pernicious • banefully …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • baneful — See baleful, baneful …   Dictionary of problem words and expressions

  • baneful — adjective a) Exceedingly harmful; causing harm, death, ruin. b) Deadly or sinister …   Wiktionary

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