mal·​ver·​sa·​tion | \ ˌmal-vər-ˈsā-shən How to pronounce malversation (audio) \

Definition of malversation

1 : misbehavior and especially corruption in an office, trust, or commission
2 : corrupt administration

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The form mal- is often a bad sign in a word, and malversation is no exception. In Middle French, mal- (meaning "bad," from the Latin word for "bad," malus) teamed up with verser ("to turn, handle," from the Latin verb vertere, "to turn ") to create malverser, a verb meaning "to be corrupt." This in turn led to the French noun malversation, which was adopted by English speakers in the mid-16th century. Some other mal- words that entered English from Middle French are maladroit ("inept"), malcontent ("discontented"), and maltreat ("to treat badly").

First Known Use of malversation

1549, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for malversation

Middle French, from malverser to be corrupt, from mal + verser to turn, handle, from Latin versare, frequentative of vertere to turn — more at worth

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The first known use of malversation was in 1549

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Cite this Entry

“Malversation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jun. 2021.

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