Why was clemency trending last week?


[muh-lahyn] /məˈlaɪn/
verb (used with object)
to speak harmful untruths about; speak evil of; slander; defame:
to malign an honorable man.
evil in effect; pernicious; baleful; injurious:
The gloomy house had a malign influence upon her usually good mood.
having or showing an evil disposition; malevolent; malicious.
Origin of malign
1275-1325; Middle English maligne < Middle French < Latin malignus. See mal-, benign
Related forms
maligner, noun
malignly, adverb
unmaligned, adjective
1. libel, calumniate; disparage; revile, abuse, vilify. 2. baneful.
1. praise. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for malign
  • What should be a source of novelty and delight can fall prey to the malign effects of boredom and routine.
  • My point here is not to malign all graduate students.
  • This is the part where the maligning happens and I'm not doing it.
  • Before you malign someone's character next time, base it on all the facts.
  • Their malign neglect has been with purpose.
  • The Maldives is in a position to realize better than most the malign power of global warming.
  • That has made it harder to sort malign from benign business practices.
  • Using an apology to malign the competition is smarmy at best.
  • Whether it's benign or malign is an individual factor.
  • Most of the time, there is nothing obviously malign about this.
British Dictionary definitions for malign


evil in influence, intention, or effect
(transitive) to slander or defame
Derived Forms
maligner, noun
malignly, adverb
Word Origin
C14: via Old French from Latin malīgnus spiteful, from malus 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 malign

early 14c., from Old French maligne "having an evil nature," from Latin malignus "wicked, bad-natured," from male "badly" (see mal-) + -gnus "born," from gignere "to bear, beget," from PIE root *gn- "to bear" (see genus).


"to slander," mid-15c., from earlier more literal sense of "to plot, to contrive" (early 15c.), from Old French malignier "to plot, deceive, pervert," from Late Latin malignare "to do maliciously," from malignus (see malign (adj.)). Related: Maligned; maligning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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