ma·​lign | \ mə-ˈlīn How to pronounce malign (audio) \

Definition of malign

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : evil in nature, influence, or effect : injurious the malign effects of illicit drugs
b : malignant, virulent a malign lesion
2 : having or showing intense often vicious ill will : malevolent gave him a malign look


maligned; maligning; maligns

Definition of malign (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to utter injuriously misleading or false reports about : speak evil of Her supporters say that she has been unfairly maligned in the press.

Other Words from malign


malignly adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for malign


sinister, baleful, malign mean seriously threatening evil or disaster. sinister suggests a general or vague feeling of fear or apprehension on the part of the observer. a sinister aura haunts the place baleful imputes perniciousness or destructiveness to something whether working openly or covertly. exerting a corrupt and baleful influence malign applies to what is inherently evil or harmful. the malign effects of racism


malign, traduce, asperse, vilify, calumniate, defame, slander mean to injure by speaking ill of. malign suggests specific and often subtle misrepresentation but may not always imply deliberate lying. the most maligned monarch in British history traduce stresses the resulting ignominy and distress to the victim. so traduced the governor that he was driven from office asperse implies continued attack on a reputation often by indirect or insinuated detraction. both candidates aspersed the other's motives vilify implies attempting to destroy a reputation by open and direct abuse. no criminal was more vilified in the press calumniate imputes malice to the speaker and falsity to the assertions. falsely calumniated as a traitor defame stresses the actual loss of or injury to one's good name. sued them for defaming her reputation slander stresses the suffering of the victim. town gossips slandered their good name

Did you know?

When a word's got mal- in it, it's no good. That prefix traces to the Latin word malus (which means "bad"), and it puts the negative vibes in both the verb and adjective forms of malign (from the Latin malignus, meaning "evil in nature") and a host of other English words. You can see it in malpractice (bad medical practice) and malady (a bad condition, such as a disease or illness, of the body or mind). A malefactor is someone guilty of bad deeds, and malice is a desire to cause injury, pain, or distress to another person. Other mal- formed words include malaise, malcontent, maladroit, malodorous, and malnourished.

Examples of malign in a Sentence

Adjective both parties to the divorce showed a malign desire to make each other's future life utterly miserable Verb Her supporters say she is being unfairly maligned in the press. a candidate who believes that it is possible to win an election without maligning anyone
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective One of the countries that has been at the center of Russia’s malign influence has been Venezuela which has spent billions in securing its presence there. Ben Evansky, Fox News, 5 May 2022 The agreement, however, would neither limit its ballistic missiles or contain its malign regional behavior. Aaron David Miller, CNN, 16 Mar. 2022 The organizers said that the city is attempting to malign owners such as Mohsin by disclosing his record. William Lee, Chicago Tribune, 10 May 2022 Western nations spent years racing to grab a slice of this oligarchic capital, loosening regulations and tightening protections to attract the kinds of malign wealth Russian oligarchs know well. Casey Michel, The New Republic, 27 Apr. 2022 The invasion shows more malign intent — or at least more risk tolerance — than most analysts imagined. Benjamin H. Friedman, The Week, 20 Mar. 2022 Seoul should welcome a broad reassessment of Beijing’s malign influence. John Bolton, WSJ, 23 May 2021 The market is being distorted by some external factors which have malign implications. Neil Winton, Forbes, 12 Apr. 2022 Political experts and economists are rethinking tools for punishing malign behavior. Douglas London, WSJ, 23 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In the video, the nurses malign the parents’ hygiene and breast-feeding practices. Cate Mcquaid,, 19 May 2022 The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for Central California, accused The Athletic and its former writer Molly Knight of a harassment campaign to malign him. NBC News, 30 Mar. 2022 Herds of invasive wild horses have, in recent decades, been thorns in the sides of environmentalists who malign the animals’ destruction of resources critical to native wildlife. J.d. Simkins, Sunset Magazine, 11 Feb. 2022 The result of the flawed process by election novices, the county found, was to falsely malign county employees, call into question the validity of legitimate votes and damage the confidence of the electorate. Rosalind S. Helderman, Anchorage Daily News, 6 Jan. 2022 Palmer said what still hurts is when people malign her sister’s reputation. NBC News, 19 Jan. 2022 Yet malign moral violations tended to elicit negative reactions. Harry Bruinius, The Christian Science Monitor, 29 Nov. 2021 The Delhi police, however, sniffed an international conspiracy to malign India in this. Niharika Sharma, Quartz, 19 Nov. 2021 Some in the English-speaking minority fear that legislation proposed by the provincial government to strengthen French will violate their rights and that the controversy will be used to unfairly malign the many of them who have learned French. Washington Post, 12 Nov. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of malign


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for malign


Middle English maligne, from Anglo-French, from Latin malignus, from male badly + gignere to beget — more at mal-, kin


Middle English, from Anglo-French maligner to act maliciously, from Late Latin malignari, from Latin malignus — see malign entry 1

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Last Updated

24 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Malign.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for malign


ma·​lign | \ mə-ˈlīn How to pronounce malign (audio) \

Kids Definition of malign

 (Entry 1 of 2)


maligned; maligning

Kids Definition of malign (Entry 2 of 2)

: to say evil things about : slander

More from Merriam-Webster on malign

Nglish: Translation of malign for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of malign for Arabic Speakers


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