a. A cause of harm, ruin, or death: "Obedience, / Bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth, / Makes slaves of men" (Percy Bysshe Shelley).
b. A source of persistent annoyance or exasperation: "The spellings of foreign names are often the bane of busy copy editors" (Norm Goldstein).
a. Fatal injury or ruin: "Hath some fond lover tic'd thee to thy bane?" (George Herbert).
b. A deadly poison.
[Middle English, destroyer, from Old English bana; see gwhen- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.