mal·​e·​fac·​tor ˈma-lə-ˌfak-tər How to pronounce malefactor (audio)
: one who commits an offense against the law
especially : felon
He favors harsh punishment for chronic malefactors.
: one who does ill toward another
a sinister malefactor abusing his powerIron Age

Examples of malefactor in a Sentence

she regards anyone who would cause the breakup of a family as a malefactor of the worst sort the victim was able to give a clear description of the malefactor to the police
Recent Examples on the Web While that countdown to Election Day — offset by an ever-more paranoid web of intrigued linked to untrustworthy election technology and the malefactors who wield it — might structure the six-part series, individual episodes explore contemporary concerns from unexpected angles. Ben Croll, Variety, 21 Mar. 2024 His tendency to extoll the smarts of some of the worst malefactors around the world and to put his personal animosities — often driven by other people not accepting his delusions about the 2020 election — above any other consideration is terrible and unfixable. Rich Lowry, National Review, 16 Oct. 2023 The series is, in this specific sense, optimistic — a fantasy that accountability is coming (even if from another realm), that the bill will come due for wealthy malefactors. Lili Loofbourow, Washington Post, 11 Oct. 2023 The stakes of the show didn’t just expand to include the malefactor’s subjectivity and despair. Lili Loofbourow, Washington Post, 13 Sep. 2023 The malefactor is standing far too close, as McCall helpfully points out, and with just a nudge his pistol could be aimed at a fellow thug. Kyle Smith, WSJ, 31 Aug. 2023 By the spring of 1348, rumors were circulating that malefactors were deliberately causing the plague by poisoning wells. Eleanor J. Murray, Scientific American, 14 Aug. 2023 The malefactors in Congress are also enduring, indeed growing. Robert Schlesinger, The New Republic, 13 July 2023 And thus, malefactor entities might be adversarially held responsible via some form of due process. WIRED, 6 July 2023

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

Word History


Middle English malefactour, from Latin malefactor, from malefacere to do evil, from male + facere to do — more at do

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of malefactor was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near malefactor

Cite this Entry

“Malefactor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


: one who is guilty of a crime or offense
: one who does evil

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