50 Synonyms for “Villain”

By Mark Nichol

The store of synonyms for villain is so well stocked that it seems, well, villainous to employ that relatively colorless word in favor of many worthy substitutes — especially in humorous contexts. Here’s a roster of appropriate alternatives.

1. Baddie: a bad person, especially a villain or a villain’s underling in a novel, a film, or a television program (usually lighthearted)
2. Beast: a reprehensible person, especially one with coarse, violent habits
3. Black sheep: an amoral, dishonorable person
3. Blackguard: a reprehensible person
4. Brute: a violent person
5. Bully: a violent person, especially one who intimidates or hurts weaker people
6. Cad: a thoughtless, uncaring man
7. Caitiff: a coward or a reprehensible person
8. Cutthroat: a vicious person
9. Dastard: a coward, or a deceitful or treacherous person
10. Desperado: a criminal, especially in the Old West
11. Devil: an evil person
12. Evildoer: a person who commits evil acts
13. Fiend: a malicious or wicked person; alternatively, an addict, a fanatic, or a person extraordinary talented at something
14. Fink: a reprehensible person (lighthearted)
15. Goon: a man who intimidates, injures, or kills in the service of another
16. Heavy: see baddie (more serious in connotation than its close synonym)
17. Heel: a reprehensible person
18. Henchman: a subordinate to a villain; alternatively, a right-hand man
19. Hoodlum: see bully
20. Hooligan: see bully
21. Hound: a reprehensible person; alternatively, an avid collector or searcher
22. Knave: a deceitful person
23. Malefactor: one who treats another person poorly or commits a crime
24. Meanie: an unkind person (lighthearted)
25. Miscreant: a criminal or a violent person; alternatively, a heretic
26. Monster: an extremely wicked person; alternatively, a cruel or deformed person
27. Ne’er-do-well: a worthless person
28. Outlaw: a fugitive from justice
29. Rapscallion: a dishonest or mean-spirited person; also, a mischievous person (often lighthearted, as are most of its close synonyms)
30. Rascal: see rapscallion
31. Reprobate: a depraved person
32. Rogue: a dishonest or reprehensible person; also, a mischievous person, or a vagrant
33. Rough: a violent person
34. Rowdy: see rough
35. Ruffian: see bully
36. Savage: see brute
37. Scalawag: see rapscallion
38. Scamp: see rapscallion
39. Scapegrace: see rapscallion
40. Scofflaw: a person who flouts laws
41. Scoundrel: see rapscallion
42. Serpent: a treacherous person
43. Shark: a devious person
44. Snake: see serpent
45. Thug: a violent person, often in the employ of another
46. Tough: see rough
47. Varlet: see knave
48. Villainness: a female villain
49. Viper: see serpent
50. Wretch: a reprehensible person; alternatively, a miserable person

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5 Responses to “50 Synonyms for “Villain””

  • thebluebird11

    I thought “black sheep” was just sort of someone different in a kind of embarrassing or unusual way, not necessarily amoral or dishonorable. In fact, I call myself the “white sheep” in my family because my family (which is small, lucky for y’all) is so annoying and weird, and I consider myself the only normal one LOL. But they’re not really amoral or dishonorable, just…dolts!

  • Sally

    Thanks for this list, Mark.

    I would have thought a ‘shark’ was less a ‘devious’ person than a ‘rapacious’ one – a “loan shark” is one who “takes a big bite” out of one’s earnings, and a “land shark” is one who “gobbles up” available property.

  • dragonwielder

    I agree with bluebird on “black sheep,” I’ve never heard it used as a synonym for “villain” before.
    Love the list though! “Blackguard” is one of my favorites.

  • Jeff

    Yeah, “blackguard” is pretty sweet. Now I’m trying to come up with band names featuring that word.

  • Dale A. Wood

    “Ne’er-do-well: a worthless person”

    A “ne’er-do-well” is not necessarily a villain at all, but rather a “ne’er-do-well” can simply be a lazy donkey of a person.

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