evil


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Related to evil: wickedness, Avil

evil eye

1. The power believed by the superstitious to inflict harm, injury, or misfortune by a look or stare. They say that the old lady living in the house at the end of the road has an evil eye—if she catches you in her gaze, you'll be cursed with bad luck for a year!
2. A hateful, malicious, or villainous look or stare that suggests or is thought to be capable of inflicting harm or misfortune. I saw him giving me the evil eye, so I turned around and walked the other way.
See also: evil, eye

evil twin

1. A malignant, treacherous, and/or malicious counterpart of a person or thing. Our competitor sells similar products, but they manufacture them in sweatshops—they're like our evil twin.
2. In telecommunications networking, a hidden wireless access point located near a legitimate one, used for the purposes of eavesdropping or diverting sensitive personal information. I know you think I'm just a conspiracy theorist, but the government is using evil twins to listen in on digital communications between people all around the country!
See also: evil

choose the lesser of two evils

To pick the less offensive of two undesirable options. I wasn't excited about going to a seminar all weekend, but I also didn't want to lose my license, so I chose the lesser of two evils and spent the weekend learning about new regulations in our field. Do you really want to get a demerit for not having your blazer? Just choose the lesser of two evils and tell the teacher you forgot it—maybe she'll take pity on you!
See also: choose, evil, lesser, of, two

necessary evil

Something bad that must exist or occur in order for something good to happen. These days, student loans are a necessary evil in order to get an education that leads to a well-paying job. Some view dictators as a necessary evil who keep the region stable by suppressing more radical elements.
See also: evil, necessary

the evil one

The devil. My son has never gotten into trouble like this before—I worry that he's under the evil one's influence.
See also: evil, one

evil be to him who evil thinks

Evil things should happen to people who have evil thoughts. He's plotting against me! Evil be to him who evil thinks.
See also: evil, think, who

give (one) the evil eye

To give one a hateful, malicious, or villainous look or stare that suggests or is thought to be capable of inflicting harm or misfortune. I saw him giving me the evil eye, so I turned around and walked the other way.
See also: evil, eye, give

lesser evil

The less offensive of two undesirable options. I wasn't excited about going to a seminar all weekend, but I also didn't want to lose my license, so I chose the lesser evil and spent the weekend learning about new regulations in our field. Do you really want to get a demerit for not having your blazer? Just choose the lesser evil and tell the teacher you forgot it—maybe she'll take pity on you!
See also: evil, lesser

the lesser of two evils

The less offensive of two undesirable options. I wasn't excited about going to a seminar all weekend, but I also didn't want to lose my license, so I chose the lesser of two evils and spent the weekend learning about new regulations in our field. Do you really want to get a demerit for not having your blazer? Just choose the lesser of two evils and tell the teacher you forgot it—maybe she'll take pity on you!
See also: evil, lesser, of, two

Evil be to him who evil thinks.

Prov. May bad things happen to anyone who thinks evil things. (A curse against those who wish you harm. This is the English version of the French Honi soit qui malypense, the motto of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, a British order of knighthood.) The secret brotherhood took an oath of loyalty and finished their meeting by declaring, "Evil be to him who evil thinks."
See also: evil, think, who

Idleness is the root of all evil.

Prov. If you have no useful work to do, you will think of harmful things to do in order to amuse yourself. (Compare this with Money is the root of all evil.) Child: Why do you make me do so many chores? Father: Idleness is the root of all evil.
See also: all, evil, of, root

lesser of two evils

the less bad thing of a pair of bad things. I didn't like either politician, so I voted for the lesser of two evils. Given the options of going out with someone I don't like and staying home and watching a boring television program, I chose the lesser of the two evils and watched television.
See also: evil, lesser, of, two

Money is the root of all evil.

 and The love of money is the root of all evil.
Prov. People do many evil things in order to get rich. (Biblical. Compare this with Idleness is the root of all evil.) Fred: I know I could make more money if I just knew the right things to invest in. Ellen: Don't worry so much about money. It's the root of all evil, after all. As the newspapers continued to report the dastardly things the wealthy young banker had done to become even wealthier, people shook their heads and remarked, "The love of money is the root of all evil."
See also: all, evil, money, of, root

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

Prov. Ignore any evil that you come in contact with; be virtuous even though there is evil around you. (Often represented by three monkeys, one of which is covering his eyes, one his ears, and one his mouth.) Jill: Do you have any idea why Fred is staying in the office so late every night? Jane: Not me. Like the three little monkeys, I see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.
See also: evil, hear, see, speak

Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Prov. You should not worry about things that might happen in the future.; It is enough to worry about things that are happening today. (Biblical.) Jane: I can't get to sleep; I keep thinking about the interview I have to do tomorrow. Alan: If the interview is tomorrow, worry about it tomorrow. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
See also: evil, sufficient, unto

evil eye

The power to cause injury or misfortune, as in The tomatoes died shortly after planting-I must have an evil eye. The source of this expression is the ancient superstitious belief that some individuals could inflict harm on others simply by looking at them. Today the term is generally used figuratively or ironically, as above, and also in the form give someone the evil eye, which means "glare malevolently at someone." For example, Helen gave his cat the evil eye, hoping it would stay out of her garden. [Late 1300s]
See also: evil, eye

give someone the evil eye

see under evil eye.
See also: evil, eye, give

lesser of two evils

The somewhat less unpleasant of two poor choices. For example, I'd rather stay home and miss the picnic altogether than run into those nasty people-it's the lesser of two evils . This expression was already a proverb in ancient Greek and appeared in English by the late 1300s. Chaucer used it in Troilus and Cressida.
See also: evil, lesser, of, two

a necessary evil

COMMON If you describe something as a necessary evil, you mean that although it is unpleasant, it is needed. He viewed war as a necessary evil. Managers sometimes think that training is a necessary evil that has to be done but is too expensive.
See also: evil, necessary

put off the evil day

BRITISH
If you put off the evil day, you try to avoid doing something unpleasant or difficult for as long as possible. I know I have to do my accounts at some point — I'm just putting off the evil day when I actually do it. Note: You can also say that someone puts off the evil hour. There was no putting off the evil hour any longer. I picked up the phone and called her.
See also: evil, off, put

the lesser of two evils

or

the lesser evil

COMMON If you have to choose between two bad things, you can call the one which is less bad the lesser of two evils or the lesser evil. Should she choose life on the streets or the bad marriage? In the end it seemed the street was the lesser of two evils. In a continent where economic successes are rare, this sort of regime may seem a lesser evil than abject poverty.
See also: evil, lesser, of, two

the evil eye

The evil eye is a harmful magical force that is given by looking at someone. Some people said an evil eye had been put on her.
See also: evil, eye

give someone the evil eye

If you give someone the evil eye, you look at them in an angry or threatening way. If I'm rude to her, she'll give me the evil eye.
See also: evil, eye, give

money is the root of all evil

People say money is the root of all evil when they want to suggest that greed is the cause of a particular problem or the cause of society's problems in general. They say money is the root of all evil and cases like this seem to suggest it's true. Note: Other nouns are sometimes used instead of money to suggest that these things are the cause of a problem. Greed may not be the root of all evil, but it is certainly behind many conflicts, from schoolyard fights to full-scale wars. Note: This expression comes from the proverb the love of money is the root of all evil. If ever we want evidence that the love of money is the root of all evil, we only have to look at the human cost of many monetary policies and decisions. Note: This proverb comes from a letter in the Bible from St. Paul to his disciple Timothy. (1 Timothy 6:10)
See also: all, evil, money, of, root

evil

mod. excellent. (see also wicked.) This wine is really evil!

evil twin

n. an illegal duplicate of an internet sign-in page into which people enter passwords and credit card numbers, thinking they are signing up for the real thing. There was an evil twin operating at the coffee shop, and I gave out my credit card number before I knew what was going on.
See also: evil
References in classic literature ?
O EVE, in evil hour thou didst give care To that false Worm, of whomsoever taught To counterfet Mans voice, true in our Fall, False in our promis'd Rising; since our Eyes Op'nd we find indeed, and find we know Both Good and Evil, Good lost and Evil got, Bad Fruit of Knowledge, if this be to know, Which leaves us naked thus, of Honour void, Of Innocence, of Faith, of Puritie, Our wonted Ornaments now soild and staind, And in our Faces evident the signes Of foul concupiscence; whence evil store; Even shame, the last of evils; of the first Be sure then.
But confidence then bore thee on, secure Either to meet no danger, or to finde Matter of glorious trial; and perhaps I also err'd in overmuch admiring What seemd in thee so perfet, that I thought No evil durst attempt thee, but I rue That errour now, which is become my crime, And thou th' accuser.
Yet the defence, when taken out of this ironical form, is doubtless sound: that his teaching had nothing to do with their evil lives.
But if, as Socrates argues, all evil is involuntary, then all criminals ought to be admonished and not punished.
There comes an end to all things; the most capacious measure is filled at last; and this brief condescension to my evil finally destroyed the balance of my soul.
They strengthened me to do evil, to forget my Search.
In my own Hills, on the edge of my own country, in the very place of my evil desire, comes the buffet - here
Cease thine evil talk and answer me," said Ignosi angrily.
evil befell him," and here her wicked eyes glinted.
I only know two very real evils in life: remorse and illness.
That after thy death day thou shalt turn to the Evil One.
But he took the gift, and afterwards, when the evil thing was already his, he understood.
MENO: That appears to be the truth, Socrates, and I admit that nobody desires evil.
If, Socrates, we are to be guided at all by the analogy of the preceding instances, then justice is the art which gives good to friends and evil to enemies.
Well, sir," continued the stranger, "whether it be an evil, or only the cause of evil, I was entirely void of it, and at the same time of friends, and, as I thought, of acquaintance; when one evening, as I was passing through the Inner Temple, very hungry, and very miserable, I heard a voice on a sudden hailing me with great familiarity by my Christian name; and upon turning about, I presently recollected the person who so saluted me to have been my fellow-collegiate; one who had left the university above a year, and long before any of my misfortunes had befallen me.