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 Le Carré is perhaps the preeminent cartographer of international malfeasance, and his portrayal of spycraft is as enthralling as ever. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "John le Carré’s Scathing Tale of Brexit Britain," 26 Oct. 2019 State law requires bonding of some municipal officials as a way to protect taxpayers against financial loss and malfeasance. Time, "City Treasurer Says Official Is Blocking Her From Taking Office Because She's Black," 9 Jan. 2020 Considering all this unseen digital malfeasance, the U.S. military finally got serious about cyber warfare in the 2010s. David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, "The Cyberwar Decade: How an Invisible Battlefield Came of Age in the 2010s," 23 Dec. 2019 In a briefing at the time, a senior State Department official falsely contended that the OAS was changing its assessment about malfeasance and that the U.S. recognition of Hernandez was appropriate. Los Angeles Times, "Does Trump support democracy in Latin America? Critics say it depends who’s in power," 1 Jan. 2020 As rivalries flare, tales of malfeasance tend to come out. The Economist, "AMLO uses his anti-corruption drive to gain power and scare critics," 30 Nov. 2019 This isn’t a dereliction issue or a malfeasance issue. Kevin Spear,, "Orlando apartments’ sewage repeatedly floods street, lake, popular Urban Trail," 22 Sep. 2017 This latest defense of his Ukraine scheme flies in the face of years spent enabling the malfeasance of kleptocrats. Casey Michel, The New Republic, "Trump’s Claims About Fighting Corruption Are a Joke," 31 Oct. 2019 To their credit, mainstream and liberal reporters raised a tremendous stink about Penn’s malfeasance, and the Labor Department quickly reinstated Olson. A. G. Hamilton, National Review, "Bloomberg Law Owes Readers an Explanation of Its Attempt to Smear Leif Olson," 4 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for malfeasance

Time Traveler

The first known use of malfeasance was in 1663

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Statistics for malfeasance

Last Updated

18 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Malfeasance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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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


How to pronounce malfeasance (audio)

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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