A friend recently used the phrase bane of my existence, and while I’m familiar with the phrase, I would like to know its origin and meaning.
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bane: a cause of great distress or annoyance
Therefore the bane of your existence is the chief annoyance or distress in your life, it is something that prevents you from enjoying life, turning it instead to misery.
From White Fang by Jack London:
Bane itself is an unusual word in English and outside of this common phrase it is rarely used in the modern language. According to phrases.org.uk it was present in the Old English Chronicles and meant 'murderer'. It can also be found in the common names of the plants henbane and wolfsbane, both of which contain deadly poisons.
The earliest use I found of the phrase is in Arthur Neil's Adelaide: An Original East Indian Story, published in the September 1794 edition of The Sentimental and masonic magazine (v.5, page 206):
(This single sentence has 1,158 characters, 190 words, 27 commas and three semicolons.)
"Bane" is a somewhat archaic word implying that the thing being described is good for killing (or at least getting rid of) something else. For example, wolfsbane is a plant that was traditionally used to poison wolves.
Found this online; sounds like Bane may have been the source of pain for Scots and others.
protected by tchrist Aug 13 '14 at 14:43
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