• synonyms


  1. disposed to cause harm, suffering, or distress deliberately; feeling or showing ill will or hatred.
  2. very dangerous or harmful in influence or effect.
  3. Pathology.
    1. tending to produce death, as bubonic plague.
    2. (of a tumor) characterized by uncontrolled growth; cancerous, invasive, or metastatic.
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Origin of malignant

1535–45; < Late Latin malignant- (stem of malignāns), present participle of malignāre to act maliciously. See malign, -ant
Related formsma·lig·nant·ly, adverbnon·ma·lig·nant, adjectivenon·ma·lig·nant·ly, adverbsem·i·ma·lig·nant, adjectivesem·i·ma·lig·nant·ly, adverbun·ma·lig·nant, adjectiveun·ma·lig·nant·ly, adverb



1–3. benign.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for malignantly

Historical Examples

  • Beecher had not told on them; Beecher malignantly persisted in not telling on them.

    Mark Twain, A Biography, 1835-1910, Complete

    Albert Bigelow Paine

  • "A couple of days in this place will bring you to your senses," added Tom, malignantly.

    Seek and Find

    Oliver Optic

  • "Whom else could I mean but Mr. Trirodov," replied Doulebova malignantly.

    The Created Legend

    Feodor Sologub

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

    Hard Cash

    Charles Reade

  • But to Socialism they were savagely and malignantly opposed.

British Dictionary definitions for malignantly


  1. having or showing desire to harm others
  2. tending to cause great harm; injurious
  3. pathol (of a tumour) uncontrollable or resistant to therapy; rapidly spreading
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  1. history (in the English Civil War) a Parliamentarian term for a royalist (def. 1)
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Derived Formsmalignantly, adverb

Word Origin

C16: from Late Latin malīgnāre to behave spitefully, from Latin malīgnus malign
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 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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

malignantly in Medicine


  1. Threatening to life, as a disease; virulent.
  2. Tending to metastasize; cancerous. Used of a tumor.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

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.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

malignantly in Culture


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

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The term malignant is used in describing cancerous tumors (see cancer) because such growths are a threat to the health of the individual.


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 New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.