An English expression you may have come across is the phrase ‘this — is the bane of my existence.’ You could fill in the bland with a person, type of weather, or inanimate object. Either way, this is an expression that might seem a little over the top, especially if you’re a new English speaker.
So what exactly does this mean? Why is it said? What is its origin? If you find yourself wondering about this—don’t panic! You’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’re going to take you through the meaning, origin, and main uses of this expression.
The Meaning of ‘The Bane of My Existence
When somebody says ‘the bane of my existence in English, they are typically describing something to be problematic for them. Let’s use an example to further illustrate this to you. You are walking along the road with your friend and it begins to rain. It’s been raining a lot recently, and within moments the two of you are soaked. Your friend looks up, sighs, and says ‘This rain is the bane of my existence.’
So what exactly do they mean by this, and why have they chosen to use it? In short, in this scenario, they are saying that the rain is a great pain to them. There are two ways you can take this statement, literally and figuratively. When somebody uses it, they are most likely using it figuratively, but there are examples where it could be literal.
Definition of ‘The Bane of My Existence.’
Before we take a look at some examples that will outline the difference between a literal use of this phrase, and a figurative one, let’s first consider the etymology of specific words. The most archaic word in this expression is ‘bane.’ What exactly do we mean by bane?
Bane comes from the old English word ‘bana’ which roughly translates to ‘the thing that causes death, or poison.’ So then, let’s say somebody who used Old English died of a plague. In this case, their bane would be the plague. If somebody died of poisoning, their bane would be the poison in question.
The word then expanded to be used in other scenarios regarding death. For example, a sword could be considered somebody’s bane. And often, heroes in stories would name their sword after the thing that they most wanted to slay with it. For example, in stories ‘Dragon’s Bane’ is a common name for a sword.
So then, the ‘Bane’ of somebody’s existence is a way of describing something that stops them from living. However, this is the literal meaning. When people say ‘the bane of my existence in modern English, it is usually taken as hyperbole.
Examples of “The Bane of My Existence.”
So then, let’s go back to our earlier example of ‘This rain is the bane of my existence.’ What, exactly, does your friend mean by this expression?
In short, they are saying that the rain is annoying to them in an overly dramatic way. Of course, it isn’t actually the bane of their existence, nor is it going to affect their existence in any real way. But it’s a fun way of expressing distaste or annoyance.
You could also say this statement literally, though this is seldom seen outside of stories. For example, if a character is constantly being chased by another person, and their life is constantly ruined by them, it may be within the realm of reason to call that person ‘the bane of their existence.’ However, you would need a very specific set of circumstances for this statement to be used literally.
So there you have it, we hope that this short guide has adequately explained the reason why people use this expression. Overall, it’s a fun turn of phrase you can use to express disdain at something. We would however caution using it as a way of insulting someone, as it’s a fairly severe expression and best used as a fun way of expressing your dislike for the weather, or an inanimate object!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Opposite To ‘The Bane of My Existence?”
Although there’s no direct opposite to this expression, a good example of something opposite would be the phrase ‘my favorite person in the whole wide world.’ Of course, this expression may also be hyperbolic, but it’s a good 180 from the more negative ‘the bane of my existence.’