ma·​lev·​o·​lence | \ mə-ˈle-və-lən(t)s How to pronounce malevolence (audio) \

Definition of malevolence

1 : the quality or state of being malevolent slander that arose from pure malevolence
2 : 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 There’s a kind of malevolence that looms large precisely because its purview is so paltry. New York Times, 28 June 2022 Danger! — an overwhelming emblem of colonial malevolence. Globe Staff,, 23 June 2022 After a long night of drinking and a random bedroom romp with one of the restaurant-goers (Kim Dong-Seok), who will soon enough be confronted by her malevolence, Freddie heads to the adoption center. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, 26 May 2022 Back then, Coriolanus Snow—the white-haired president of Panem, played with elegant malevolence by the incomparable Donald Sutherland in the four cinematic adaptations of Suzanne Collins’s best-selling trilogy—was only an ambitious teenager. Radhika Seth, Vogue, 1 June 2022 For one: how Phil’s malevolence comes from a place of self-loathing and self-protection as a closeted gay man living in Montana in 1925. Los Angeles Times, 1 Mar. 2022 Ayosa wants to go and do, but tragedy and other people’s malevolence stalk her. Nanjala Nyabola, Vogue, 26 Apr. 2022 In some ways, legal experts said, the imagery of civilians shot at close range conveys a more personal malevolence. New York Times, 5 Apr. 2022 But Cumberbatch, all tense, taut malevolence, dominates the proceedings. Globe Staff,, 6 Jan. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of malevolence

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

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Last Updated

11 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Malevolence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on malevolence

Nglish: Translation of malevolence for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of malevolence for Arabic Speakers


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