bad actor


plural bad actors
: a person, group, country, etc. who purposely and usually repeatedly engages in very bad behavior (such as committing crimes or causing harm to others)
Giving users a way to prove that they're being harassed with, say, a screenshot or some other form of authentication could help Twitter catch bad actors, even after they've covered their tracks.Issie Lapowsky
A perennial diplomatic bad actor, North Korea has already rattled its sabers at the opening of the Obama administration.Alex Kingsbury
"We've got to break away from the notion," as the U.A.W.'s [United Auto Workers] director of public relations, Peter G. Laarman, puts it, "that labor is a 'bad actor' in the economy. …"Harry Stein
also : something that causes trouble, danger, or a problem
The bad actor in male pattern hair loss is DHT, a metabolic product of testosterone. Jane E. Brody
We have special ducts throughout the vapor bath that carry away all the toxic bad actors. PC Today

Examples of bad actor in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Empowering employers to shield their bad actors behind non-disparagement clauses prevents the natural societal checks and balances system from serving its purpose. Christine Shen, Fortune, 15 Apr. 2024 On Tuesday, Wray also touched on threats both seen and unseen from a bad actors from Russia, China, North Korea and Iran. Luke Barr, ABC News, 9 Apr. 2024 Hubert points out that bloated code offers giant attack surfaces for bad actors. IEEE Spectrum, 7 Apr. 2024 Last year, Amazon prevented 700,000 bad actors from creating new seller accounts and selling products online altogether. Francisco Velasquez, Quartz, 2 Apr. 2024 Groups such as Stack Overflow have warned that AI applications are providing bad actors with an increasingly large surface area to attack. David Prosser, Forbes, 28 Mar. 2024 The company released a new security mode, Stolen Device Protection, in January that is intended to thwart bad actors from learning or changing users’ passcodes. Matt Lavietes, NBC News, 11 Mar. 2024 Since its launch in 2020, the CCU has pursued legal action and/or reported to law enforcement more than 21,000 bad actors around the world. Francisco Velasquez, Quartz, 2 Apr. 2024 In the comments section beneath the video, some viewers speculated about who the actress might be referring to, while others emphasized the importance of calling out bad actors in the film industry. Larisha Paul, Rolling Stone, 25 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bad actor.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1879, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bad actor was in 1879

Dictionary Entries Near bad actor

Cite this Entry

“Bad actor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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