May 20, 2013
baleful (adjective)
\BAIL-ful\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : deadly or harmful in influence2 : threatening harm or evil
How do you use it?
In the museum's armory, there was a wall of medieval weapons that made me shiver, including a particularly baleful, heavily-spiked mace.
Are you a word wiz?

What do you think the root word of "baleful" means?

The root of "baleful" is ultimately the Old English word "bealu," which means "evil." The Old English word passed through Middle English and became the Modern English noun "bale," which means "great evil" or "sorrow." Old English speakers made "bealu" an adjective by adding a common Old English ending: "-ful," meaning "full of." "Bealuful" in Old English became "baleful" in Modern English. Though it's not common, remember not to confuse it with the hay "bale" or the get-out-of-jail "bail."
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