sinister

sinister,[/p] baleful, malign, malefic, maleficent all mean seriously threatening, portending, or promising evil or disaster, usually imminent or already initiated evil or disaster.
Sinister is the most commonly employed of these words and the widest in its range of reference. It may be applied not only to something perceptible
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a sinister cloud

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a sinister look

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but to something imperceptible
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a sinister influence

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a sinister intention

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In either case sinister often expresses a judgment based on experience or on an interpretation of outward signs and implies on the part of the observer a resulting fear or apprehension of approaching evil or of lurking dangers; thus, a cloud is describable as sinister when it has the color, shape, or general character of one that the observer believes to precede a tornado; a person's influence may be interpreted as sinister when it is judged in the light of some of its visible effects
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she was about half a mile from her residence when she beheld a sinister redness arising from a ravine a little way in advance— Hardy

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some of the customers did look sinister enough—scar-faced toughs in ragged caps— Wouk

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I did not wish him to know that I had suspected him of harboring any sinister designs— Hudson

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Sinister is also applied to something that works or operates so covertly, insidiously, or obliquitously that it is likely to find those whose well-being it threatens off guard
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a sinister disease

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a sinister policy

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the sinister power exercised ... by the combination in keeping rivals out of the business and ruining those who already were in— Justice Holmes

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Baleful carries an even stronger suggestion of menace than sinister for it implies inevitable suffering, misery, or destruction; often it imputes perniciousness, noxiousness, or hellishness to the thing so described. It is applicable to something that works openly and without indirection
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this dread power . . . can be made a giant help to humanity, but science does not show us how to prevent its baleful use— Baruch

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as well as to something that works occultly or obliquely
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deceit contrived by art and baleful sorcery— Shak.

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culling their potent herbs and baleful drugs— Milton

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the baleful power of fanaticisms and superstitions— Edmund Wilson

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the baleful horoscope of Abdallah had predicted the downfall of Granada— Prescott

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Malign (see also MALICIOUS) carries over from its earliest sense a suggestion of an inherently evil or harmful tendency or disposition, even though the term in this sense is characteristically applied to immaterial things (as appearances, aspects, forces, or influences) rather than to persons
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the eyes were no longer merely luminous points; they looked into his own with a meaning, a malign significance— Bierce

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believe that lions will only kill humans under a malign human influence— Wyatt

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It also carries connotations (as of boding evil or disaster) derived from its reference in astrology to the aspects or the influences of the stars
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a struggle between two forces, the one beneficent, the other malignBryce

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the spirit of competition, which, according to Rousseau, was one of the earliest of the malign fruits of awakening intelligence— Grandgent

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dense masses of smoke hung amid the darting snakes of fire, and a red malign light was on the neighboring leafage— Meredith

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and occasionally suggests a force or power contributory to boded disaster
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the prickly topic of symbolism, with its malign power to set the wise by the earsMontague

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Malefic and maleficent carry a stronger suggestion of balefulness than does malign, for both regularly imply not only a tendency toward but an active force productive of evil or disaster; thus, a malign influence bodes disaster; a malefic or maleficent influence is putting the threat of disaster into effect
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the malefic arts of sorcery, witchcraft, and diabolism

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Conjurations for the expulsion of malefic demons— Norman Douglas

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Saturn . . . represents malefic force. Cold, hostile, merciless ... he blights all that he gazes on— Evangeline Adams

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like everything that has outlived its usefulness nationalism has changed from a beneficent into a maleficent force—C. K. Streit

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at times his maleficent power burst open the peak, sent fire through the jagged holes, and destroyed villages— Diez de Medina

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Analogous words: *ominous, portentous, fateful, unpropitious, inauspicious: *secret, covert, furtive, underhand, underhanded: *malicious, malignant, malevolent, spiteful

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sinister — is originally a Latin term for left or to the left (and by extension, left handedness), and is used in heraldry to refer to the left of the bearer of the arms, and to the right by the viewer s eyes. It is often used to mean evil.Sinister may also …   Wikipedia

  • Sinister — Sin is*ter (s[i^]n [i^]s*t[ e]r; 277), a. Note: [Accented on the middle syllable by the older poets, as Shakespeare, Milton, Dryden.] [L. sinister: cf. F. sinistre.] 1. On the left hand, or the side of the left hand; left; opposed to {dexter}, or …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Sinister — Жанр дэт метал Страна …   Википедия

  • sinister — [sin′is tər] adj. [ME sinistre < L sinister, left hand, or unlucky (side), orig. lucky (side) < IE base * sene , to prepare, achieve > Sans sánīyān, more favorable: early Roman augurs faced south, with the east (lucky side) to the left,… …   English World dictionary

  • sinister — early 15c., prompted by malice or ill will, from O.Fr. sinistre contrary, unfavorable, to the left, from L. sinister left, on the left side (opposite of dexter), perhaps from root *sen and meaning properly the slower or weaker hand [Tucker], but… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Sinister — Allgemeine Informatione …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Sinister — (lat.), 1) link; Sinistrae tibiae, s.u. Flöte; 2) linkisch, verkehrt; 3) ungünstig, unglücklich; dagegen in den Auspicien der Römer glücklich, von guter Vorbedeutung …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Sinister — (lat.), link, linkisch; bei Vorzeichen in der Religionssprache der Römer ursprünglich glückverheißend, später nach griechischer Theorie unheilverkündend …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • sinister — I adjective alarming, baleful, baneful, blameworthy, censurable, cold blooded, comminatory, conscienceless, contemptible, corrupt, creepy, cruel, culpable, dangerous, demoniac, demoniacal, deserving of condemnation, designing, despiteful,… …   Law dictionary

  • sinister — [adj] nasty, menacing adverse, apocalyptic, bad, baleful, baneful, blackhearted, corrupt, deleterious, dire, disastrous, dishonest, disquieting, doomful, evil, foreboding, harmful, hurtful, ill boding, inauspicious, injurious, lowering, malefic,… …   New thesaurus

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