Tracing the history of the word malfeasance (with an earlier spelling male-feasance) “illegal act, official misconduct” is as disorienting as getting lost in a hall of mirrors. The phrase Male-feasance and Mis-feasance is first recorded in 1663. Misfeasance (spelled misfeasance) “wrongful use of lawful authority” is first recorded in Sir Francis Bacon’s The Elements of the Common Lawes of England (1630). Male-feasance may be a reworking of misfeasance with replacement of the combining form mis- with mal-. The law being very traditional in its terminology, the change of prefix may have been influenced by malfeasor (variously spelled) “malefactor,” which had a very brief history in print—less than a century—and was obsolete by the late 15th century.