ma·​lev·​o·​lence mə-ˈle-və-lən(t)s How to pronounce malevolence (audio)
: the quality or state of being malevolent
slander that arose from pure malevolence
: malevolent behavior
an era full of selfishness and malevolence
Choose the Right Synonym for malevolence

malice, malevolence, ill will, spite, malignity, spleen, grudge mean the desire to see another experience pain, injury, or distress.

malice implies a deep-seated often unexplainable desire to see another suffer.

felt no malice toward their former enemies

malevolence suggests a bitter persistent hatred that is likely to be expressed in malicious conduct.

a look of dark malevolence

ill will implies a feeling of antipathy of limited duration.

ill will provoked by a careless remark

spite implies petty feelings of envy and resentment that are often expressed in small harassments.

petty insults inspired by spite

malignity implies deep passion and relentlessness.

a life consumed by motiveless malignity

spleen suggests the wrathful release of latent spite or persistent malice.

venting his spleen against politicians

grudge implies a harbored feeling of resentment or ill will that seeks satisfaction.

never one to harbor a grudge

Examples of malevolence in a Sentence

only mindless malevolence would explain this cruel vandalism
Recent Examples on the Web This week, news outlets around the world picked up the story, which quoted the cybersecurity firm Fortinet as its source, spinning it out as the perfect illustration of how hackers can exploit the most mundane technology for epic malevolence. Andy Greenberg Dhruv Mehrotra, WIRED, 10 Feb. 2024 Words have become two related brands of malevolence. Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, 23 Dec. 2023 Spielberg has assembled an extraordinary cast for the occasion, headed by Danny Glover, whose Albert is a tower of malevolence warmed only by the presence of Shug, and by Whoopi Goldberg, whose emergence from slavery to radiant womanhood is a joy to behold. Arthur Knight, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 Dec. 2023 Roy Tillman’s specific brand of malevolence seems perfectly in tune with the Mad Men star’s gift for playing macho avatars of a bygone era who are confused and angered by change. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 21 Nov. 2023 Trump’s general malevolence sometimes obscures his incoherence. David Remnick, The New Yorker, 24 Sep. 2023 Teaming with half brother Westside Gunn and cousin Benny the Butcher, the Buffalo rapper helped build Griselda Records into a shrine to New York drug rap from days past, serving malevolence and opulence in equal measure. Chris Richards, Washington Post, 21 Sep. 2023 Saving Desert Tortoises from Extinction To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web browser that supports HTML5 video Through this lens, the beauty of nature quickly gives way to malevolence. Jay Caspian Kang, The New Yorker, 6 Sep. 2023 Juicy isn’t one to defend his father — the two had a contentious and abusive relationship — but the atmosphere feels poisoned with malevolence. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 19 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'malevolence.' 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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near malevolence

Cite this Entry

“Malevolence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


ma·​lev·​o·​lence mə-ˈlev-ə-lən(t)s How to pronounce malevolence (audio)
: the quality or state of being malevolent
: malevolent behavior

More from Merriam-Webster on malevolence

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