One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1An act of witchcraft performed with the intention of causing damage or injury; the resultant harm.
2A potion or poison, used especially in witchcraft.
3Civil Law. An act of wrongdoing which causes harm, injury, or loss to another party; the result of such an act.
Early 17th century; earliest use found in George Abbot (1562–1633), archbishop of Canterbury. From classical Latin maleficium evil deed, injury, sorcery from maleficus + -ium.
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