having or showing a desire to harm others or cause them trouble


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



Malevolent, spiteful, wicked, evil, mean, cruel


Benevolent, kind, good-natured, helpful, friendly, generous

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun malice, maliciousnesses, maliciousness, malices
Verb None
Adjective malicious
Adverb maliciously

Example Sentences

  • The malicious rumors spread like wildfire, tarnishing her reputation and causing immense distress.

  • He launched a malicious cyber attack, infiltrating the company’s network and stealing sensitive data.

  • The malicious prankster delighted in causing chaos, setting traps and playing cruel tricks on unsuspecting victims.

  • Her malicious intent was evident as she plotted to sabotage her colleague’s chances for promotion.


The word “malicious” derives from the Latin term “malitia,” meaning “ill-will” or “spite.” It is formed by adding the suffix “-ous” to the root “malice.” The prefix “mal-” indicates a sense of badness or evil intent.

The usage of “malicious” describes someone or something that displays a deliberate intention to cause harm, injury, or distress. It implies a desire to inflict pain or suffering on others and often involves actions driven by ill-will, animosity, or spitefulness. The term highlights the presence of malice or an evil disposition.

As an adjective, “malicious” emphasizes the intentional and harmful nature of an act, motive, or behavior. It is used to characterize individuals, actions, or intentions that aim to harm or cause damage without justifiable cause. This harm can be physical, emotional, or reputational, and can take the form of actions, words, or even thoughts. People who are malicious are often described as malevolent or wicked, as they have an evil or harmful intent. In contrast, benevolent individuals have a kind and helpful nature, and would never intentionally cause harm. When used to describe actions or events, the word “malicious” implies a deliberate and premeditated effort to cause harm, making it a strong and serious word. The term is frequently employed in legal contexts to describe harmful intent or wrongful actions.

Variations of the word “malicious” include “maliciously” as an adverb form and “maliciousness” as a noun form.

Understanding the history and usage of “malicious” underscores the importance of empathy and ethical behavior. It reminds us of the consequences of harboring ill-will and engaging in harmful actions towards others. Recognizing malicious intent can help foster a more compassionate and harmonious society, where the well-being and dignity of individuals are valued and protected.