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[mal-uh-fak-ter] /ˈmæl əˌfæk tər/
a person who violates the law; criminal.
a person who does harm or evil, especially toward another.
Origin of malefactor
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English malefactour < Latin malefactor, equivalent to malefac(ere) to act wickedly, do an evil deed (see male-, fact) + -tor -tor
1. felon, culprit.
2. benefactor. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for malefactor
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The malefactor being put to death, there can be no thought of his amendment.

  • His rhoomatism's merely that malefactor's way of goin' onder cover.

    Faro Nell and Her Friends Alfred Henry Lewis
  • Even supposing that Joggi were the malefactor, where was the rest of that money?

    Rico and Wiseli Johanna Spyri
  • In this way, secured like a malefactor, I was ordered forward.

    Jack Hinton Charles James Lever
  • He joins issue with the chief priests, elders, and scribes, who had delivered up the holy One as a malefactor.

    Elijah the Tishbite C. (Charles) H. (Henry) Mackintosh
  • The mere information that He was a "malefactor" did not suffice.

  • But for its pointing walls it is one white ruin, loveliness in a heap and the baleful shadow of the hand of the malefactor.

    The Challenge of the Dead Stephen Graham
  • This is what all mankind in general make a point of doing, from the saint to the malefactor.

  • We shall find proofs of malevolence, but not the malefactor.

    The Underground City Jules Verne
British Dictionary definitions for malefactor


a criminal; wrongdoer
Derived Forms
malefaction, noun
malefactress, noun:feminine
Word Origin
C15: via Old French from Latin, from malefacere to do evil
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for malefactor

mid-15c., from Latin malefactor, agent noun from past participle stem of malefacere "to do evil," from male "badly" (see mal-) + facere "to perform" (see factitious).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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