malice

noun
mal·​ice | \ ˈma-ləs How to pronounce malice (audio) \

Definition of malice

1 : desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another an attack motivated by pure malice
2 : intent to commit an unlawful act or cause harm without legal justification or excuse ruined her reputation and did it with malice

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Choose the Right Synonym for malice

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

Malicious, Malevolent, and Malice

Malicious and malevolent are close in meaning, since both refer to ill will that desires to see someone else suffer. But while malevolent suggests deep and lasting dislike, malicious usually means petty and spiteful. Malicious gossipers are often simply envious of a neighbor's good fortune. Vandals may take malicious pleasure in destroying and defacing property but usually don't truly hate the owners. Malice is an important legal concept, which has to be proved in order to convict someone of certain crimes such as first-degree murder.

Examples of malice in a Sentence

All of this is about control, of course. While nicknames can just as easily be dispensed with affection as with malice, either way the practice is as stone alpha male as social interaction gets. — Garry Trudeau, Time, 12 Feb. 2001 The killer that Capote himself became—far more efficiently than Perry and Dick—when, in poisonous prose and on talk-shows, he laid waste his friends and skewered his competitors with malice as pure as the air in an oxygen tent. — Molly Haskell, New York Times Book Review, 12 June 1988 It isn't so much courage that I would need, as the patience to endure the grinding malice of bureaucratic harassment. — Alice Walker, Living by the Word, 1981 No doubt his natural floridity of face encouraged whispers, and partisan malice exaggerated them; but during the eighteen-thirties he certainly drank enough to invite the solicitude of his friends and the gibes of his enemies. — Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Age of Jackson, 1946 an attack motivated by pure malice She claimed that her criticisms were without malice.
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Recent Examples on the Web The federal response to the pandemic that is ripping through our communities and devastating businesses has clearly been insufficient to the point of malice. Libby Watson, The New Republic, "The Intolerable Fragility of American Hospitals," 30 Apr. 2020 That was rich coming from a U.S. regime that refused to stop strangling the Iranian economy out of pure spiteful malice and whose own response has been defined by dissembling and delay. Ryan Cooper, TheWeek, "The U.S. coronavirus outbreak is going to be worse than Iran's," 27 Mar. 2020 And so Card’s duppies function in a decidedly Caribbean manner: as symbols of malice and white domination in the world. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "An Epic Novel Haunted by the Ghosts of Colonialism," 11 Mar. 2020 The drivers were high school students from Mesquite and were held for investigation of murder without malice. Meagan Hurley, Dallas News, "Illegal street racing in Dallas neighborhoods is a historic problem," 20 Feb. 2020 The teacher and principal called the student’s mother to apologize for the incident, and the teacher assured the student’s mother that no malice was behind the depiction. al, "Fake bullet wound painted on second-grader angers mom," 16 Oct. 2019 No to the debauchery of the public mind, No to personal malice nursed and fed . . Kevin Baker, Harper's Magazine, "Losing My Religion," 30 Mar. 2020 The list of bad faith and open malice is long here. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "This Is Crisis Colonization," 30 Mar. 2020 This is not someone who is going to kill someone out of malice. CBS News, "Jason Corbett case: Woman fights for her brother's honor after brutal Davidson County, N.C. murder," 22 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'malice.' 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 malice

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for malice

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin malitia, from malus bad

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Time Traveler for malice

Time Traveler

The first known use of malice was in the 14th century

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Statistics for malice

Last Updated

14 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Malice.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/malice. Accessed 25 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for malice

malice

noun
How to pronounce malice (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of malice

: a desire to cause harm to another person

malice

noun
mal·​ice | \ ˈma-ləs How to pronounce malice (audio) \

Kids Definition of malice

: a desire to cause harm to another person

malice

noun
mal·​ice | \ ˈma-ləs How to pronounce malice (audio) \

Legal Definition of malice

1a : the intention or desire to cause harm (as death, bodily injury, or property damage) to another through an unlawful or wrongful act without justification or excuse
b : wanton disregard for the rights of others or for the value of human life
c : an improper or evil motive or purpose if malice cannot be proved or a benign purpose can be imagined— David Kairys
d : actual malice in this entry
actual malice
1 : malice proved by evidence to exist or have existed in one that inflicts unjustified harm on another: as
a : an intent to injure or kill
b : malice sense 2

called also express malice, malice in fact

2a : the knowledge that defamatory statements especially regarding a public figure are false
implied malice
: malice inferred from the nature or consequences of a harmful act done without justification or excuse also : malice inferred from subjective awareness of duty or of the likely results of one's act

called also legal malice, malice in law

malice aforethought
: actual or implied malice existing in or attributed to the intention of one that injures or especially kills without justification or excuse and usually requiring some degree of deliberation or premeditation or wanton disregard for life murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethoughtCalifornia Penal Code
malice in fact
: actual malice in this entry
malice in law
: implied malice in this entry
2 : feelings of ill will, spite, or revenge

Note: Such feelings are usually not an important component of malice in legal consideration unless punitive damages or actual malice is an issue.

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More from Merriam-Webster on malice

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for malice

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with malice

Spanish Central: Translation of malice

Nglish: Translation of malice for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of malice for Arabic Speakers

Comments on malice

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