Synonyms & Antonyms of malevolence

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About malevolence

How does the noun malevolence differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of malevolence are grudge, ill will, malice, malignity, spite, and spleen. While all these words mean "the desire to see another experience pain, injury, or distress," malevolence suggests a bitter persistent hatred that is likely to be expressed in malicious conduct.

a look of dark malevolence

When is grudge a more appropriate choice than malevolence?

While in some cases nearly identical to malevolence, grudge implies a harbored feeling of resentment or ill will that seeks satisfaction.

never one to harbor a grudge

When would ill will be a good substitute for malevolence?

The words ill will and malevolence are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, ill will implies a feeling of antipathy of limited duration.

ill will provoked by a careless remark

When is it sensible to use malice instead of malevolence?

While the synonyms malice and malevolence are close in meaning, malice implies a deep-seated often unexplainable desire to see another suffer.

felt no malice toward their former enemies

When could malignity be used to replace malevolence?

The meanings of malignity and malevolence largely overlap; however, malignity implies deep passion and relentlessness.

a life consumed by motiveless malignity

Where would spite be a reasonable alternative to malevolence?

In some situations, the words spite and malevolence are roughly equivalent. However, spite implies petty feelings of envy and resentment that are often expressed in small harassments.

petty insults inspired by spite

When might spleen be a better fit than malevolence?

The synonyms spleen and malevolence are sometimes interchangeable, but spleen suggests the wrathful release of latent spite or persistent malice.

venting his spleen against politicians

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about malevolence

Time Traveler for malevolence

Time Traveler

The first known use of malevolence was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Cite this Entry

“Malevolence.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on malevolence

Dictionary: Definition of malevolence

Nglish: Translation of malevolence for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of malevolence for Arabic Speakers

Comments on malevolence

What made you want to look up malevolence? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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