a combining form meaning “bad,” “wrongful,” “ill,” occurring originally in loanwords from French (malapert); on this model, used in the formation of other words (malfunction; malcontent).
Compare male-.

Origin of mal-

Middle English < Old French, representing mal adv. (< Latin male badly, ill) and adj. (< Latin malus bad)

Definition for mal (2 of 2) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for mal

British Dictionary definitions for mal (1 of 3)


abbreviation for

Malaysia (international car registration)

British Dictionary definitions for mal (2 of 3)


combining form

bad or badly; wrong or wrongly; imperfect or defectivemaladjusted; malfunction

Word Origin for mal-

Old French, from Latin malus bad, male badly

British Dictionary definitions for mal (3 of 3)


abbreviation for

Bible Malachi
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

Word Origin and History for mal


word-forming element meaning "bad, badly, ill, poorly, wrong, wrongly," from French mal (adv.), from Old French mal (adj., adv.) "evil, ill, wrong, wrongly" (9c.), from Latin male (adv.) "badly," or malus (adj.) "bad, evil" (fem. mala, neuter malum), of unknown origin, perhaps related to Avestan mairiia "treacherous." Most Modern English words with this prefix are 19c. coinages.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for mal (1 of 2)


[ măl, mäl ]


A disease or disorder.

Medicine definitions for mal (2 of 2)



Bad; badly:malpractice.
Abnormal; abnormally:malformation.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.