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[muh-lig-nuh nt] /məˈlɪg nənt/
disposed to cause harm, suffering, or distress deliberately; feeling or showing ill will or hatred.
very dangerous or harmful in influence or effect.
  1. tending to produce death, as bubonic plague.
  2. (of a tumor) characterized by uncontrolled growth; cancerous, invasive, or metastatic.
Origin of malignant
1535-45; < Late Latin malignant- (stem of malignāns), present participle of malignāre to act maliciously. See malign, -ant
Related forms
malignantly, adverb
nonmalignant, adjective
nonmalignantly, adverb
semimalignant, adjective
semimalignantly, adverb
unmalignant, adjective
unmalignantly, adverb
1. spiteful, malevolent. 2. perilous, hurtful, pernicious.
1–3. benign. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for malignantly
Historical Examples
  • Aristocrat as she was, something low, vulgar, and malignantly mocking came out upon Lady Attwill's face as Collingwood said this.

    A Butterfly on the Wheel Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull
  • Beecher had not told on them; Beecher malignantly persisted in not telling on them.

  • His big fists were clenching and unclenching, and his face was positively fiendish, so malignantly did he look at Johnson.

    The Sea-Wolf Jack London
  • "Whom else could I mean but Mr. Trirodov," replied Doulebova malignantly.

    The Created Legend Feodor Sologub
  • I saw Anna Sartorius malignantly smiling as she rocked herself in an American rocking-chair.

    The First Violin Jessie Fothergill
  • "I'll tell mamma," said she to him, malignantly, as if the sound could reach him.

    Hard Cash Charles Reade
  • I spoke, I fear, too contemptuously; but they spoke so irreverently, so malignantly of the Divine Wisdom that it overset me.

    Anima Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • I do not say malignantly, because there was no malignant intention.

    The Framework of Home Rule Erskine Childers
  • Here, of course, it is specialised and malignantly accelerated.

    Running Sands Reginald Wright Kauffman
  • And malignantly, his eyes blazing with a jealous, evil light, he shot Stroud—twice.

    'Drag' Harlan Charles Alden Seltzer
British Dictionary definitions for malignantly


having or showing desire to harm others
tending to cause great harm; injurious
(pathol) (of a tumour) uncontrollable or resistant to therapy; rapidly spreading
(history) (in the English Civil War) a Parliamentarian term for a royalist (sense 1)
Derived Forms
malignantly, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from Late Latin malīgnāre to behave spitefully, from Latin malīgnusmalign
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 malignantly



1560s, in reference to diseases, from Middle French malignant and directly from Late Latin malignantem (nominative malignans) "acting from malice," present participle of malignare "injure maliciously" (see malign (v.)). Earlier in the church malignant "followers of the antichrist," from Latin ecclesiam malignantum in early Church writing, applied by Protestant writers to the Church in Rome (1540s). As an adjective, Middle English used simple malign (early 14c.). Related: Malignantly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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malignantly in Medicine

malignant ma·lig·nant (mə-lĭg'nənt)

  1. Threatening to life, as a disease; virulent.

  2. Tending to metastasize; cancerous. Used of a tumor.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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malignantly in Science
  1. Tending to have a destructive clinical course, as a malignant illness.

  2. Relating to cancer cells that are invasive and tend to metastasize. Malignant tumor cells are histologically more primitive than normal tissue. Compare benign.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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malignantly in Culture

malignant definition

A descriptive term for things or conditions that threaten life or well-being. Malignant is the opposite of benign.

Note: The term malignant is used in describing cancerous tumors (see cancer) because such growths are a threat to the health of the individual.
Note: The term is often used in a general way to denote something that is both destructive and fast growing: “The malignant growth of the suburbs is destroying the landscape.”
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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