mal·​fea·​sance | \ˌmal-ˈfē-zᵊn(t)s \

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

But the lawsuit claims that’s exactly what Georgia has created through a combination of misfeasance and malfeasance. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "The new lawsuit challenging Georgia’s entire elections system, explained," 30 Nov. 2018 This is an investigation into corruption and malfeasance. Fox News, "Missouri Governor Mike Parson addresses tragic boat accident," 21 July 2018 Trump’s dominant metaphor, is another, one that suggests pervasive malfeasance. Mark Schmitt, Vox, "Stop saying “drain the swamp”," 7 Sep. 2018 There is also the small matter of widespread allegations of malfeasance and corruption involved in the bidding process, and some lingering sour grapes that the United States missed out because of it. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Qatar is the World Cup every fan should attend," 13 July 2018 The Post also earned a reputation for fearless coverage of issues like corruption, deforestation and political malfeasance. Eli Meixler / Phnom Penh, Time, "The Sale of Cambodia's Last Independent Newspaper Pushes Press Freedom Into Peril," 11 May 2018 Giuliani also argued that if Trump sits down with Mueller’s team, any inconsistencies with his previous statements or the record would result from innocent confusion, not malfeasance. Laura King,, "Giuliani says Trump 'probably' has power to self-pardon but wouldn't use it," 3 June 2018 Grounds for removal are: exercising unlawful power or authority, gross neglect of duty, gross immorality, drunkenness, misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance. James Ewinger,, "Perry Village mayor and council are at a silent impasse," 28 Apr. 2018 The first is that Pruitt’s living arrangement raises questions about potential corruption—a far more impactful malfeasance than frivolous spending. Emily Atkin, The New Republic, "A brief guide to Scott Pruitt’s bizarre condo corruption controversy.," 30 Mar. 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

4 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for malfeasance

The first known use of malfeasance was in 1663

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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 \

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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Comments on malfeasance

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


to make faulty or ineffective

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