Definition of malign in English:



  • 1Evil in nature or effect; malevolent.

    ‘she had a strong and malign influence’
    • ‘Whilst not sent with any malign intent, the letter was an " oppressive document".’
    • ‘The worst aspect of science fiction/science fantasy books is their malign neglect of the laws of economics.’
    • ‘In the poorest parts of the world, such images are said to have a particularly malign influence.’
    • ‘But what of the few, the very few, who are not allowed to watch TV, whose elders have decided that it is a malign influence?’
    • ‘Politicians concern themselves predominantly and directly with the malign influence that broadcasting might exert on its audiences.’
    • ‘A misguided strategy, but not, I think, a malign one.’
    • ‘The place is populated by endearing eccentrics who eat seal-flipper pie and brood darkly on the sea's malign nature.’
    • ‘Government policy has a massive and usually malign effect.’
    • ‘He accurately intuited that all power is essentially implacable and malign.’
    • ‘Racism of some kind is just about universal but some forms are much more malign than others.’
    • ‘Why were the Lanarkshire whistle-blowers accused of malign intent for demanding early action?’
    • ‘The humanity of the characters is never totally eclipsed by their more malign traits.’
    • ‘And we can't really know how far his malign influence has spread.’
    • ‘Manifest in the two friends' fortunes is the malign effect of commercialism.’
    • ‘The piece centred on the malign effect he believes environmental sceptics have on discussion of pollution and industrialisation.’
    • ‘Professor Snape is a malign influence and should be given a spell away.’
    • ‘The American Empire emerges, then, not as a complex phenomenon with some good effects and some malign ones.’
    • ‘In that climate of malign neglect, the bureau's ills were allowed to fester.’
    • ‘Even from beyond the legislative grave, Section 28 continues to exercise its malign influence.’
    • ‘We should not believe that this malign aspect of human nature which sleeps in all of us has gone away or will ever go away.’
    harmful, evil, bad, baleful, hostile, inimical, destructive, malevolent, evil-intentioned, malignant, injurious, spiteful, malicious, vicious
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1archaic (of a disease) malignant.
      • ‘Therapeutic measures such as bleeding and purging, designed originally to get rid or excess or malign humours, continued to be used.’
      • ‘But it was no match for the malign tumor, first detected just last spring, his colleagues said.’
      • ‘After hours spent quelling the fire with cold water, ‘he succumbed to a fever so malign that in just a few days he expired in the icy embrace of death.’’
      • ‘Hysteria was at one time thought to be caused by the womb moving upwards due to the influence of malign humours.’


  • Speak about (someone) in a spitefully critical manner.

    ‘don't you dare malign her in my presence’
    • ‘While eggs may have an unhealthy image, the evidence suggests they have been unfairly maligned.’
    • ‘But he denied the army had been maligning politicians to discredit them.’
    • ‘I shall delight in maligning him at every hand's turn.’
    • ‘He did not set out to falsely malign anyone or advance some hidden political agenda.’
    • ‘Men have been so maligned by our society that they are not taken seriously when they protest.’
    • ‘Event after event causes Philip to wonder whether Rachel is a scheming murderous or grossly maligned woman.’
    • ‘The bench has been much maligned all season, and not all of the complaints were unwarranted.’
    • ‘Now that we have Camilla installed, her champion wrote, should we still be maligning this lady?’
    • ‘There was a time at mid-century when maligning the mother took a more generalized form.’
    • ‘And yet, never has realism (to use a very broad term) been so maligned.’
    • ‘In all the articles maligning students of the past two decades for apathy, the media rarely deign to mention this counterexample.’
    • ‘He was also taken aback because he felt the PR consultant was maligning someone who was dead.’
    • ‘Second, they'd imply that Chalabi had been unjustly maligned or demonized by opponents with other agendas to pursue.’
    • ‘And I thought she was one of the most maligned people in American history.’
    • ‘A victory for the champion team Sydney has been much maligned this year.’
    • ‘Prescott has been much maligned for its substantial increase in heat output.’
    • ‘The Yankees and Red Sox are often maligned by the other owners for bloated payrolls.’
    • ‘Tommy went on to pay tribute to the county footballers, saying they are often maligned.’
    • ‘Social services must be the most maligned group of people in today's society.’
    • ‘Shame on you, Jim Ross, for maligning a man for making the right decision.’
    defame, slander, libel, blacken someone's character, blacken someone's name, smear, run a smear campaign against, vilify, speak ill of, spread lies about, accuse falsely, cast aspersions on, run down, misrepresent, calumniate, traduce, denigrate, disparage, slur, derogate, abuse, revile
    View synonyms


Middle English: via Old French maligne (adjective), malignier (verb), based on Latin malignus ‘tending to evil’, from malus ‘bad’.