ma·​lin·​ger | \ mə-ˈliŋ-gər How to pronounce malinger (audio) \
malingered; malingering\ mə-​ˈliŋ-​g(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce malingering (audio) \

Definition of malinger

intransitive verb

: to pretend or exaggerate incapacity or illness (as to avoid duty or work) His boss suspected him of malingering because of his frequent absences from work.

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Other Words from malinger

malingerer \ mə-​ˈliŋ-​gər-​ər How to pronounce malingerer (audio) \ noun

Did You Know?

Do you know someone who always seems to develop an ailment when there's work to be done? Someone who merits an Academy Award for his or her superb simulation of symptoms? Then you know a malingerer. The verb malinger comes from the French word malingre, meaning "sickly," and one who malingers feigns illness. In its earliest uses in the 19th century, malinger usually referred to a soldier or sailor pretending to be sick or insane to shirk duty. Later, psychologists began using malingering as a clinical term to describe the feigning of illness in avoidance of a duty or for personal gain. Today, malinger is used in just about any context in which someone fakes sickness or injury to get out of an undesirable task.

Examples of malinger in a Sentence

His boss suspected him of malingering because of his frequent absences from work.
Recent Examples on the Web The decision against Robert Krebs came after a psychologist determined Krebs didn’t have a mental illness or cognitive impairment and was instead malingering to avoid prosecution for the robbery last year in Tucson. Jacques Billeaud,, "81-year-old deemed mentally fit for trial on robbery charge," 24 June 2019 On Monday, prosecutor Stuart Silberg said Ms. Ortega could have been malingering, or faking her psychiatric state. Corinne Ramey, WSJ, "Ex-Nanny Says She Didn’t Recall Fatal Incident, Psychiatrist Testifies," 31 July 2017 The question is obviously especially consequential when deeming a person malingering means they could be put to death. James Hamblin, The Atlantic, "Is Psychiatry Partisan?," 5 May 2017

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

1820, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for malinger

French malingre sickly

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The first known use of malinger was in 1820

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Cite this Entry

“Malinger.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Jul. 2020.

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How to pronounce malinger (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of malinger

: to pretend to be sick or injured in order to avoid doing work
ma·​lin·​ger | \ mə-ˈliŋ-gər How to pronounce malinger (audio) \
malingered; malingering\ -​g(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce malingering (audio) \

Medical Definition of malinger

: to pretend or exaggerate incapacity or illness (as to avoid duty or work)

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More from Merriam-Webster on malinger

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for malinger

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with malinger

Spanish Central: Translation of malinger

Nglish: Translation of malinger for Spanish Speakers

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