ma·​lef·​i·​cence | \ mə-ˈle-fə-sən(t)s How to pronounce maleficence (audio) \

Definition of maleficence

1a : the act of committing harm or evil
b : a harmful or evil act
2 : the quality or state of being maleficent

Examples of maleficence in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Rayn’s line also features a modernized take on the evil eye amulet, long a symbol of warding off maleficence. Malina Saval, Variety, 24 Mar. 2022 Exceptionalism is easily misused, the seedbed upon which hate and maleficence can grow. Parker Richards, The New Republic, 17 Mar. 2022 The director Ryan White’s sensitive presentation and brilliant structure refuses to sensationalize the material, devoting long, haunting stretches of the series to victims’ trauma and institutional maleficence. Jason Bailey, New York Times, 17 Mar. 2020 Much of Christie’s unwaning appeal relies on incongruity—maleficence emerging in the most genteel of contexts, like strychnine in the tea—whereas the Thrombeys make no pretense of decency. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 22 Nov. 2019 Those opposed argue that helping a patient take her own life profoundly violates the principle of non-maleficence or avoiding harm. Sarah C. Hull, STAT, 8 Nov. 2019 Johnson’s is a quest for the holy under heaven, in a wilderness that has been degraded by the maleficence of God and man. William Giraldi, The Seattle Times, 4 Feb. 2018 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'maleficence.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of maleficence

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for maleficence

Italian maleficenza, from Latin maleficentia, from maleficus

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The first known use of maleficence was in 1598

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Cite this Entry

“Maleficence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jun. 2022.

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