mal·​fea·​sance | \ ˌmal-ˈfē-zᵊn(t)s How to pronounce malfeasance (audio) \

Definition of malfeasance

: wrongdoing or misconduct especially by a public official The investigation has uncovered evidence of corporate malfeasance.

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Examples of malfeasance in a Sentence

The investigation has uncovered evidence of corporate malfeasance. a campaign to impeach the governor for malfeasance in office

Recent Examples on the Web

The officer was found guilty Thursday of malfeasance in office and two counts of theft of a firearm. Robert Rhoden,, "Former Causeway cop gets 4 years in prison for stealing guns, cash and drugs," 14 June 2019 For now, though, many of his supporters aren't taking his victory for granted, dreading electoral malfeasance by the powers-that-be. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "Mexico’s presidential frontrunner is promising a revolution. Can he deliver?," 29 June 2018 One worry is legal: There are differing views on whether impeachment is even a viable option for alleged malfeasance that didn’t occur in office. Jon Kamp, WSJ, "Virginia’s Black Caucus Gains Strength Amid Political Turmoil," 15 Feb. 2019 But Black Monday doesn't reckon—even sardonically or sneeringly—with Wall Street's abhorrent ethical malfeasance. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Black Monday on Showtime: Maybe Wall Street Isn't Funny Anymore," 21 Jan. 2019 The three companies were put under sanctions in April 2017 because they are controlled by Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire who was targeted as part of a broad effort to penalize Moscow for election meddling and other malfeasance. Samuel Rubenfeld, WSJ, "Push to Block Easing of Sanctions Could Make U.S. Wary of High-Profile Targets," 16 Jan. 2019 State law allows the governor to suspend an elections supervisor for malfeasance or incompetence and appoint a replacement. Sean Sullivan, The Seattle Times, "Republicans fan unfounded worries about voter fraud in Florida, other close contests," 12 Nov. 2018 Brill, a lawyer who became a journalist and entrepreneur, draws quite a bit here on his previous work, using several decades of writing and thinking about subjects as varied as education and corporate malfeasance to figure out what has gone wrong. Jennifer Szalai, New York Times, "The Cry of the Centrist: In ‘Tailspin,’ Steven Brill Bemoans a Polarized America," 5 June 2018 The incidence of banker malfeasance and theft is high, and someone has to represent all those employees who get caught. James Atlas, Town & Country, "The Year of the Celebrity Super Lawyer," 3 Dec. 2018

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

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First Known Use of malfeasance

1663, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for malfeasance

mal- + obsolete feasance doing, execution

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Statistics for malfeasance

Last Updated

19 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for malfeasance

The first known use of malfeasance was in 1663

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More Definitions for malfeasance



Financial Definition of malfeasance

What It Is

Malfeasance is the legal term for intentionally doing something that is illegal.

How It Works

Let's say John Doe is Jane Smith's broker. John really wants to keep Jane Smith as a client, and he is in charge of her managed account, which means he can buy and sell for her account without her prior approval.

John decides that he wants to increase the returns in Jane's account, so he gets a tip from his buddy, Jake Johnson, who is the CFO of Company XYZ and who tells him that Company XYZ is about to be acquired by Company ABC. John takes this piece of insider information and buys 10,000 shares of Company XYZ for Jane's account. As expected, the stock price of Company XYZ soars 50% after Company ABC announces its acquisition plan five days later. Jane's account makes $200,000.

John has intentionally done something illegal (trade on insider information) that he knows could harm Jane if caught. This is malfeasance.

Why It Matters

Malfeasance is a term often connected to political figures, and it is hard to prove.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of malfeasance

law : illegal or dishonest activity especially by a public official or a corporation


mal·​fea·​sance | \ ˌmal-ˈfēz-ᵊns How to pronounce malfeasance (audio) \

Legal Definition of malfeasance

: the commission (as by a public official) of a wrongful or unlawful act involving or affecting the performance of one's duties — compare misfeasance, nonfeasance

History and Etymology for malfeasance

mal- bad + obsolete English feasance doing, execution, from Old French faisance, from fais-, stem of faire to make, do, from Latin facere

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showing courage and determination

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