malicious

adjective

ma·​li·​cious mə-ˈli-shəs How to pronounce malicious (audio)
: having or showing a desire to cause harm to someone : given to, marked by, or arising from malice
malicious gossip
maliciously adverb
maliciousness noun

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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.

Example Sentences

… she is an inspired hater, and thrills to malicious descriptions of long-forgotten, nameless individuals whose bad luck it was to live near her, or to have met her socially. Joyce Carol Oates, New York Times Book Review, 5 Nov. 2000 A cunning and malicious crook who suckered him without half trying. Philip Roth, American Pastoral, 1997 Frank sensed her discomfort and took a certain malicious pleasure in it, enacting all the while his perfect innocence. John Updike, The Afterlife, 1994 a malicious distortion of the truth the neighborhood chatterbox has again been spreading malicious gossip
Recent Examples on the Web The goal is to avoid interacting with fake links that could steal login information or load malicious software onto your device. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, 23 Nov. 2022 If stalkerware is installed on your phone or laptop, the malicious software can send every tap, message, and photo back to the person who added it to your device. WIRED, 29 Oct. 2022 The agency has not released details about the motive or identity of the individuals behind the ransomware attack, which is a type of malicious software often unknowingly downloaded onto computers through methods such as innocuous email attachments. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 28 Oct. 2022 The agency has not released details about the motive or identity of the individuals behind the ransomware attack, which is a type of malicious software often unknowingly downloaded onto computers through methods such as innocuous email attachments. The Indianapolis Star, 27 Oct. 2022 In a ransomware attack, malicious software, or malware, is used to deny access to computer systems or data until a ransom is paid. Ginger Adams Otis, WSJ, 2 Oct. 2022 Hackers infected the district’s computer networks with malicious software, locking up files and demanding a ransom payment. Kevin Collier, NBC News, 6 Sep. 2022 Poses as a legitimate alert claiming to detect a virus or malfunction and tricks people into visiting infected websites or downloading malicious software that will supply access to the computing device or system. Charles Aunger, Forbes, 16 Aug. 2022 Still, the picture of malicious software taking over the secure bunker that ELAM provides and killing off the defending programs is alarming. Neil J. Rubenking, PCMAG, 12 Aug. 2022 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

see malice

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of malicious was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near malicious

Cite this Entry

“Malicious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/malicious. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

malicious

adjective

ma·​li·​cious mə-ˈlish-əs How to pronounce malicious (audio)
1
: doing mean things for pleasure
2
: done just to be mean
malicious gossip
maliciously adverb
maliciousness noun

Legal Definition

malicious

adjective

ma·​li·​cious mə-ˈli-shəs How to pronounce malicious (audio)
: given to, marked by, or arising from malice
malicious destruction of property
maliciously adverb
maliciousness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on malicious

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