O.E. yfel (Kentish evel) “bad, vicious, ill, wicked,” from P.Gmc. *ubilaz (cf. O.Saxon ubil, O.Fris., M.Du. evel, Du. euvel, O.H.G. ubil, Ger. übel, Goth.ubils), from PIE *upelo-, from root *wap- (cf. Hittite huwapp- “evil”). The noun is O.E. yfel. “In OE., as in all the other early Teut. langs., exc. Scandinavian, this word is the most comprehensive adjectival expression of disapproval, dislike or disparagement” [OED]. Evil was the word the Anglo-Saxons used where we would use bad, cruel, unskillful, defective (adj.), or harm, crime, misfortune, disease. The meaning “extreme moral wickedness” was in O.E., but did not become the main sense until 18c. Related: Evilly. Evil eye (L. oculus malus) was O.E. eage yfel. Evilchild is attested as an English surname from 13c.14c.