One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Bringing or producing evil; unwholesome, insalubrious.
Early 18th century; earliest use found in Nathan Bailey (d. 1742), lexicographer and schoolmaster. From classical Latin mal- (probably representing malum: see mal-) + -iferous. The 19th-cent. examples were perhaps used in place of pestiferous to avoid the connotations of facetiousness which several words in pest- were coming to acquire.
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