There is a word (I think in ends in -ize) that means “to make seem like an an evil thing or force.” For instance:

The author __ the axe to foreshadow its usage in the coming tragedy.

What is the word?

NOTE: I don't think it's "antagonize" since that usually means "to make hostile".


4 Answers 4


There's always demonize

  1. (American) To turn into a demon.
  2. (American) To describe or represent as evil or diabolic.

Another good choice might be vilify. While it doesn't exactly mention it in the definition, I commonly hear it used to describe exactly what you're looking for.

  1. to lower in estimation or importance
  2. to utter slanderous and abusive statements against : defame


I thought a little more about what you said about vilify, and how it doesn't really fit. It seems that the definition of villainize is closer to what you want.

  1. To represent as a villain.
  • I feel that demonize is too strong and vilify is more in line with slander than describing inanimate objects. Though the word demonize is definitely close to the bullseye. Aug 28, 2013 at 21:43
  • Vilify could be used in this context. For example: You could vilify drugs as a way to promote drug enforcement.
    – Jacobm001
    Aug 28, 2013 at 22:01
  • Daniel H.: Please see the edit.
    – Jacobm001
    Aug 29, 2013 at 15:08
  • I don't think demonize or villainize are quite right either. They do perfectly suit the idea of making something seem evil, but they further imply that they are at odds to the speaker, which is not the case for foreshadowing. Thus, good answer from a certain point of view (and I did upvote), but it doesn't fit the specific context. (It's basically the same problem that antagonize has.) Aug 31, 2013 at 5:15

A phrase that comes to mind is cast an evil aura, but that is far from a single verb.

The term malign as an adjective has some of the qualities you are seeking to ascribe to the object

evil in nature, influence, or effect : injurious - the malign effects of illicit drugs

But the verb form has to do with speech, often untrue or unjustified

to utter injuriously misleading or false reports about : speak evil of


The word presaged comes to mind, though it is not a perfect fit for your sentence. It means foreshadowed as with an omen or warning or negative symbolism. If I were to recast your sentence, I'd probably say,

"By mentioning the axe, the author presaged its role in the coming tragedy."


Perhaps a little different than what you're going for, but the term "Scapegoat" is both a noun and a verb that means "To make one appear to be the cause of a problem to escape responsibility" and the individual/group chosen to be a scapegoat. Though this particular word implies that the one being made a scapegoat is guilty of no wrongdoing, and is simply being chosen for convenience of blame-shifting. So it may not be appropriate for your use.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.