Also found in: Thesaurus, Idioms.
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.]
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.