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

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, "Denis Johnson’s posthumous story collection is a thrilling gift from the grave," 4 Feb. 2018

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about maleficence

Statistics for maleficence

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for maleficence

The first known use of maleficence was in 1598

See more words from the same year

Comments on maleficence

What made you want to look up maleficence? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


having a desire to acquire more things

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!