a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel.
a character in a play, novel, or the like, who constitutes an important evil agency in the plot.

1275–1325; Middle English vilein, vilain < Middle French < Late Latin villānus a farm servant. See villa, -an

subvillain, noun
undervillain, noun

villain, villein.

1. knave, rascal, rapscallion, rogue, scamp. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
villain (ˈvɪlən)
1.  a wicked or malevolent person
2.  (in a novel, play, film, etc) the main evil character and antagonist to the hero
3.  jocular often a mischievous person; rogue
4.  slang (Brit) a criminal
5.  history a variant spelling of villein
6.  obsolete an uncouth person; boor
[C14: from Old French vilein serf, from Late Latin vīllānus worker on a country estate, from Latin: villa]
fem n

villein or villain (ˈvɪlən)
(in medieval Europe) a peasant personally bound to his lord, to whom he paid dues and services, sometimes commuted to rents, in return for his land
[C14: from Old French vilein serf; see villain]
villain or villain
[C14: from Old French vilein serf; see villain]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, "base or low-born rustic," from Anglo-Fr. and O.Fr. villain, from M.L. villanus "farmhand," from L. villa "country house" (see villa).
"The most important phases of the sense development of this word may be summed up as follows: 'inhabitant of a farm; peasant; churl, boor; clown; miser; knave, scoundrel.' Today both Fr. vilain and Eng. villain are used only in a pejorative sense." [Klein]
Meaning "character in a novel, play, etc. whose evil motives or actions help drive the plot" is from 1822.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Softer imaginations blame a vaguer villain: workshop process among tables of
What worries me in some of these debates is that student-loan debt of any
  amount is portrayed as the villain.
Sometimes it can turn a muddy scene into one in which you become the villain.
When a project comes in over budget and way past schedule, poor management
  could be the villain.
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