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

Attorneys define malice as an intention to do injury. Dan Strumpf, WSJ, "Huawei Hits Back at Claims It Steals Secrets," 27 June 2019 The brutality and intensity of Julio Patricio Salazar’s death was evidence, prosecutors successfully argued, of the malice of his alleged killer — 27-year-old Michael Nash. Rachel Weiner, Washington Post, "Good Samaritan killed in Arlington last year was ‘beaten to death,’ medical examiner testifies," 24 June 2019 The malice with which Queen Marguerite spits out her lines, the throb of anguish in Queen Marie’s voice and the Doctor’s affected sneer all start to feel stale after a while. Margaret Gray, latimes.com, "Review: At City Garage in Santa Monica, a king who won't accept the ultimate exit," 19 June 2019 There's so much darkness across the globe, worsening as the days go by—war, hatred, malice—yet there will always be a sense of beauty present. Dennis Tang, Teen Vogue, "How Hafsah Faizal Created a Fantastical World Rooted in Reality," 28 May 2019 Still, no one will have any doubt about the malice of the plan Lila devised. Dorothy Rabinowitz, WSJ, "‘My Brilliant Friend’ Review: Mindful Storytelling," 15 Nov. 2018 The green 10-ora note features a Voortrekker mother crying out at some unseen malice, her limp son draped in her arms. Gregory Barber, WIRED, "Inside an All-White Town’s Divisive Experiment With Cryptocurrency," 6 June 2019 Maybe her crabbiness, schedule obsession and subversive communication style are products of anxiety, rather than malice. Karla L. Miller, The Seattle Times, "How to deal with the office tattletale," 12 Dec. 2018 Schur’s scripts can be philosophically dense, but Bell is the perfect avatar for his ideas, all sunshine, puppy dogs, and bloodthirsty malice. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "The Good Place," 20 Nov. 2018

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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Statistics for malice

Last Updated

10 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for malice

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

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More Definitions for malice

malice

noun

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with malice

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for malice

Spanish Central: Translation of malice

Nglish: Translation of malice for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of malice for Arabic Speakers

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