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noun mal·ice \ˈma-ləs\

Simple Definition of malice

  • : a desire to cause harm to another person

Full Definition of malice

  1. 1 :  desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another

  2. 2 :  intent to commit an unlawful act or cause harm without legal justification or excuse

Examples of malice

  1. All of this is about control, of course. While nicknames can just as easily be dispensed with affection as with malice, either way the practice is as stone alpha male as social interaction gets. —Garry Trudeau, Time, 12 Feb. 2001

  2. The killer that Capote himself became—far more efficiently than Perry and Dick—when, in poisonous prose and on talk-shows, he laid waste his friends and skewered his competitors with malice as pure as the air in an oxygen tent. —Molly Haskell, New York Times Book Review, 12 June 1988

  3. It isn't so much courage that I would need, as the patience to endure the grinding malice of bureaucratic harassment. —Alice Walker, Living by the Word, 1981

  4. No doubt his natural floridity of face encouraged whispers, and partisan malice exaggerated them; but during the eighteen-thirties he certainly drank enough to invite the solicitude of his friends and the gibes of his enemies. —Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Age of Jackson, 1946

  5. an attack motivated by pure malice

  6. She claimed that her criticisms were without malice.

Origin of malice

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin malitia, from malus bad

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of malice

malice, malevolence, ill will, spite, malignity, spleen, grudge mean the desire to see another experience pain, injury, or distress. malice implies a deep-seated often unexplainable desire to see another suffer <felt no malice toward their former enemies>. malevolence suggests a bitter persistent hatred that is likely to be expressed in malicious conduct <a look of dark malevolence>. ill will implies a feeling of antipathy of limited duration <ill will provoked by a careless remark>. spite implies petty feelings of envy and resentment that are often expressed in small harassments <petty insults inspired by spite>. malignity implies deep passion and relentlessness <a life consumed by motiveless malignity>. spleen suggests the wrathful release of latent spite or persistent malice <venting his spleen against politicians>. grudge implies a harbored feeling of resentment or ill will that seeks satisfaction <never one to harbor a grudge>.

MALICE Defined for Kids


noun mal·ice \ˈma-ləs\

Definition of malice

  1. :  a desire to cause harm to another person

Seen and Heard

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February 7, 2016

a slight offense

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