Meghan asks: In “The bane of my existence” what is a bane? When you say that something is the bane of your existence, you generally mean that it is something that causes you a great deal of misery. The word isn’t used by itself much anymore—you’ll almost exclusively hear it in the “bane of my existence” expression. As the years went on, bane started to refer to things that weren’t actual human murderers, but simply things that caused death—an illness, for instance. So, next time you say your cat is the bane of your existence, just be happy it isn’t actually going to kill you like a real “bane” would… or is it!