[muh-lev-uh-luh nt]
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  1. wishing evil or harm to another or others; showing ill will; ill-disposed; malicious: His failures made him malevolent toward those who were successful.
  2. evil; harmful; injurious: a malevolent inclination to destroy the happiness of others.
  3. 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 formsma·lev·o·lent·ly, adverbun·ma·lev·o·lent, adjectiveun·ma·lev·o·lent·ly, adverb
Can be confusedmaleficent malevolent Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for malevolent


  1. wishing or appearing to wish evil to others; malicious
  2. astrology having an evil influence
Derived Formsmalevolence, nounmalevolently, adverb

Word Origin for malevolent

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

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