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[muh-lev-uh-luh nt] /məˈlɛv ə lənt/
wishing evil or harm to another or others; showing ill will; ill-disposed; malicious:
His failures made him malevolent toward those who were successful.
evil; harmful; injurious:
a malevolent inclination to destroy the happiness of others.
Astrology. evil or malign in influence.
Origin of malevolent
1500-10; < Latin malevolent- (stem of malevolēns) ill-disposed, spiteful, equivalent to male- male- + volent- (stem of volēns), present participle of velle to want, wish for, desire (see will1, -ent)
Related forms
malevolently, adverb
unmalevolent, adjective
unmalevolently, adverb
Can be confused
maleficent, malevolent. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for malevolent
  • This anthropomorphically loaded deity might equally well be malevolent or just plain neutral.
  • Only a shaman can turn the malevolent power into a protective force.
  • As people gain understanding of the way the body works, the potential for making truly malevolent agents increases, too.
  • The mistreatment of him seems pointlessly malevolent.
  • She bore 16 children, but only seven survived their toddlerhoods (four of these deaths were blamed on a malevolent family ghost).
  • Apparently, his nature had an even deeper, more malevolent side.
  • But there is something else going on inside his head, too, more malevolent.
  • Tucker fleshes out the story, leaving readers understanding how both guileless and malevolent actions can be misconstrued.
  • But not malevolent aliens — just strange, pale, oddly dressed aliens.
  • Of course the flip side of the one-party system is that it doesn't prevent a malevolent despot from taking the reins of power.
British Dictionary definitions for malevolent


wishing or appearing to wish evil to others; malicious
(astrology) having an evil influence
Derived Forms
malevolence, noun
malevolently, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from Latin malevolens, from male ill + volens, present participle of velle to wish
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 malevolent

c.1500, from Middle French malivolent and directly from Latin malevolentem (nominative malevolens) "ill-disposed, spiteful, envious," from male "badly" (see mal-) + volentem (nominative volens), present participle of velle "to wish" (see will (v.)). Related: Malevolently.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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