ma·​lef·​i·​cence mə-ˈle-fə-sən(t)s How to pronounce maleficence (audio)
: the act of committing harm or evil
: a harmful or evil act
: the quality or state of being maleficent

Examples of maleficence in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web One such instance recounts Lucarelli’s encounter with discrepancies in cash deposits during his tenure, unraveling a complex web of deceit and maleficence within the company’s ranks. Hilary Tetenbaum, USA TODAY, 23 Mar. 2024 May Lord Vishnu always protect you from all enemies and maleficence. Ysolt Usigan, Woman's Day, 17 Jan. 2023 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

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

Word History


Italian maleficenza, from Latin maleficentia, from maleficus

First Known Use

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of maleficence was in 1598

Dictionary Entries Near maleficence

Cite this Entry

“Maleficence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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