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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for malevolent
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And as he said it, he smiled; and he no longer had the ferocious face, the malevolent eyes of former days.

    Cuore (Heart) Edmondo De Amicis
  • His guide was looking at him with an expression of open, malevolent triumph.

    Brand Blotters William MacLeod Raine
  • Now it seemed that some malevolent power was playing with him, torturing him to the accompaniment of devilish laughter.

  • The speaker's tone was so malevolent that Hamilton was impressed, in spite of himself.

    Making People Happy Thompson Buchanan
  • Ippegoo looked on with slightly envious but not malevolent feelings, for he was a harmless lad.

    Red Rooney R.M. Ballantyne
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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