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1. Portending evil; ominous: The guard's baleful glare frightened the children.
2. Harmful or malignant in intent or effect: a baleful influence.

[Middle English, from Old English bealoful : bealu, bale, evil + -ful, -ful; see -ful.]

bale′ful·ly adv.
bale′ful·ness n.
Usage Note: Baleful and baneful overlap in meaning, but baleful usually applies to something that is menacing or foreshadows evil: a baleful look. Baneful most often describes that which is actually harmful or destructive: baneful effects of their foreign policy.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.balefulness - the quality or nature of being harmful or evilbalefulness - the quality or nature of being harmful or evil
evilness, evil - the quality of being morally wrong in principle or practice; "attempts to explain the origin of evil in the world"
References in periodicals archive ?
46) Their mythological sexual meaning distilled by the sensational media of Keats's poetry and the phantasmagoria show, Lamia and Medusa act as complementary components of the same monstrous optics, mutual mirrorings of woman's double-bind as the allure and balefulness of desire's mysterious gaze.