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From Middle French malignant, from Late Latin malignans. See malign.


  • IPA(key): /məˈlɪɡnənt/
  • (file)


malignant (comparative more malignant, superlative most malignant)

  1. Harmful, malevolent, injurious.
    malignant temper;  malignant revenge;  malignant infection
    • 1863 August 26, Abraham Lincoln, Letter to James Conkling[1], page 7:
      [] while, I fear, there will be some white ones, unable to forget that, with malignant heart, and deceitful speech, they have strove to hinder it.
  2. (medicine) Tending to produce death; threatening a fatal issue.
    Antonyms: benign, non-malignant
    malignant diphtheria
    a malignant tumor
    • 1922, Ben Travers, chapter 1, in A Cuckoo in the Nest[2]:
      “[…] the awfully hearty sort of Christmas cards that people do send to other people that they don't know at all well. You know. The kind that have mottoes [] . And then, when you see [the senders], you probably find that they are the most melancholy old folk with malignant diseases. […]”

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malignant (plural malignants)

  1. A deviant; a person who is hostile or destructive to society.
    • 1823, The Retrospective Review, volume 7, page 11:
      As devout Stephen was carried to his burial by devout men, so is it just and equal that malignants should carry malignants []
    • 1999, National Institute of Business Management, Difficult People at Work, →ISBN, page 8:
      A malignant in a position of real power immediately becomes a tyrant.
  2. (historical, derogatory, obsolete) A person who fought for Charles I in the English Civil War.




  1. third-person plural present active indicative of malignō