Bane is a noun which chiefly means something which hurts or destroys. It is also a synonym for poison and death. Obsolete meanings include a murderer and a verb form which meant to murder by poisoning.

The word is most commonly heard in the phrase, or some version of the phrase, bane of my existence. The phrase is used to describing something or someone has the main cause of pain or woe in a person’s life. That phrase has been around since at least 1800.

Another common usage is in the phrase a boon or a bane, where a boon is something that brings about good things and a bane is the opposite.


“I felt good out there, but I gave up another three-run homer which has been my bane this year,” Dickey said. [Toronto Star]

I was working as her assistant, plating those real pretty little squab, the tuna with lemon gelée and the egg — the egg was the bane of my existence. [Oregon Live]

“Gun cases at the airport are in a certain way the bane of our existence,” said Robert Masters, executive assistant district attorney of Queens County, N.Y., which includes both J.F.K. and La Guardia. [The New York Times]

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Majority Caucus in Parliament has described the high level of engagement of Ghanaians in petty partisan politics as the bane of democracy. [Ghana Web]

Even today, the Giants are embarrassingly ambivalent about whether he was a boon or a bane. [Napa Valley Register]

2 thoughts on “Bane”

    • Probably is Viking, or old Anglo Saxon.
      The article is misleading in implying that “the bane of my existence”(and giving the impression that “bane” may be around the same age. has been around since about 1800.
      One of my interests has been wild plants and what you can do with them (mostly can I eat them)
      Wolfsbane is a plant that can be used against wolves, and it has always been called Wolfsbane( likewise fleabane, henbane- -the opposite, plants that heal, are “worts” eg Lungwort, St john’s Wort
      The last wolf in Britain was killed in the Scottish Highlands possibly as late as 1743, other source say in the Highlands c1680.
      In England, the source of the name, they were extinct 200 years earlier.


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