ma·​lig·​ni·​ty mə-ˈlig-nə-tē How to pronounce malignity (audio)
: an instance of malignant or malicious behavior or nature
Choose the Right Synonym for malignity

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

Examples of malignity in a Sentence

one of the characters in the novel is a dictator of such malignity that he came to be one of the most famous villains in all of literature
Recent Examples on the Web For a decade, the central drama of Trumpism has concerned the Republican élites who continued to support him—the story has been about their malignity, or opportunism, or willful moral blindness. Benjamin Wallace-Wells, The New Yorker, 16 Sep. 2023 Though Bilger does not quite say so, his grandfather emerges as a case study in the capacity for compartmentalization that is arguably more destructive of morality than outright malignity. Fintan O’Toole, The New York Review of Books, 20 July 2023 In a landscape of such confused malignity as capital-p Publishing, who actually suffers from an act like June’s? Zoe Hu, Washington Post, 12 May 2023 American exceptionalism has two faces, equally transfixed with a sense of specialness—one radiant with the nation’s unique beneficence, the other sunk in its unrivaled malignity. George Packer, The Atlantic, 21 Nov. 2022 Modernist malignity has long been a topic of discussion in architectural circles. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 27 Oct. 2022 Where Moyn is driven by a photonegative of American exceptionalism—a sense that American power is a singular force of malignity in the world—Arkin is concerned that this perpetual-war machine is at odds with America’s strategic interests. Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker, 6 Sep. 2021 Decades of miserable history had to pass before the comedy buried within their malignity was revealed, like a vein of ore uncovered by a natural catastrophe. Ian Frazier, The New Yorker, 19 Aug. 2019 Sections on stock characters of anti-Jewish propaganda and political satire from across the centuries, such as Judas and the figure of the Jewish moneylender, expose the malignity and menace of the myth. Sara Lipton, The New York Review of Books, 17 June 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'malignity.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of malignity was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near malignity

Cite this Entry

“Malignity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


ma·​lig·​ni·​ty mə-ˈlig-nət-ē How to pronounce malignity (audio)
plural malignities
: the quality or state of being malignant
: something (as an act or event) that is malignant
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!