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[muh-ling-ger] /məˈlɪŋ gər/
verb (used without object)
to pretend illness, especially in order to shirk one's duty, avoid work, etc.
Origin of malinger
1810-20; < French malingre sickly, ailing, equivalent to mal- mal- + Old French heingre haggard (perhaps < Gmc)
Related forms
malingerer, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for malingerer
Historical Examples
  • He told me that I was a malingerer and that I should not see the doctor.

  • But when it came to facing the physical hardships of the North he was a malingerer.

    The Yukon Trail

    William MacLeod Raine
  • Anybody who was not a malingerer was voted a fool, an altruist.

  • As it was not in Peter to be a malingerer he was left in peace, while we picked apples.

    The Story Girl Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • Thoroughly squelched, the malingerer flushed, mumbled an apology and held out his hand.

    The Long Chance Peter B. Kyne
  • One night there was a heavy snowfall, and in the morning Pike, the malingerer, did not appear.

    The Call of the Wild Jack London
  • So in the same way hospital doctors will soon find out the malingerer.

    Wit and Wisdom of Lord Tredegar Godfrey Charles Morgan
British Dictionary definitions for malingerer


(intransitive) to pretend or exaggerate illness, esp to avoid work
Derived Forms
malingerer, noun
Word Origin
C19: from French malingre sickly, perhaps from mal badly + Old French haingre feeble
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 malingerer



1820, from French malingrer "to suffer," perhaps also "pretend to be ill," from malingre "ailing, sickly" (13c.), of uncertain origin, possibly a blend of mingre "sickly, miserable" and malade "ill." Mingre is itself a blend of maigre "meager" + haingre "sick, haggard," possibly from Germanic (cf. Middle High German hager "thin"). The sense evolution may be through notion of beggars with sham sores. Related: Malingered; malingering; malingerer (1785).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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malingerer in Medicine

malinger ma·lin·ger (mə-lĭng'gər)
v. ma·lin·gered, ma·lin·ger·ing, ma·lin·gers
To feign illness or other incapacity in order to avoid duty or work.

ma·lin'ger·er n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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