c. 1300, "desire to hurt another, propensity to inflict injury or suffering, active ill-will," from Old French malice "ill will, spite, sinfulness, wickedness" (12c.), from Latin malitia "badness, ill will, spite," from malus "bad, unpleasant" (see mal-). In legal use, "a design or intention of doing mischief to another without justification or excuse" (1540s).
Actual malice, express malice, malice in fact, malice in which the intention includes a contemplation of some injury to be done.—Constructive malice, implied malice, imputed malice, malice in law, that which, irrespective of actual intent to injure, is attributed by the law to an injurious act intentionally done, without proper motive, as distinguished from actual malice, either proved or presumed. Malice aforethought, or malice prepense, actual malice particularly in case of homicide. [Century Dictionary]
mid-13c., "harboring ill-will, enmity, or hostility," from Old French malicios "showing ill will, spiteful, wicked" (Modern French malicieux), from Latin malitiosus "wicked, malicious," from malitia "badness, ill will, spite," from malus "bad, unpleasant" (see mal-). In legal use (early 14c., Anglo-French), it means "characterized by malice prepense" (see malice).
"planned beforehand, premeditated," 1702, short for prepensed, prepenst (mid-15c.), past-participle adjective from obsolete verb prepense "consider beforehand," originally purpense, from Old French pourpenser "to plan, meditate" (11c.), from pro "before" (see pro-) + penser "to think," from Latin pensare "weigh, consider," frequentative of pendere "to hang, cause to hang; weigh; pay" (from PIE root *(s)pen- "to draw, stretch, spin").
Usually in the legal phrase malice prepense (with French word order) "wrong or injury purposefully done or planned in advance" (see malice). This is attested from mid-15c. as malice prepensed. Related: Prepensive.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "false, bad, wrong." The exact sense of the root remains uncertain, "since it concerns a collection of largely isolated words in different IE branches" [de Vaan].
It forms all or part of: blame; blaspheme; blasphemous; blasphemy; dismal; mal-; malady; malaise; malaria; malediction; malefactor; malefic; malevolence; malevolent; malice; malicious; malign; malison; malversation; mauvais.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Avestan mairiia‑, "treacherous;" Greek meleos "idle; unhappy;" Latin male (adv.) "badly," malus (adj.) "bad, evil;" Old Irish mell "destruction;" Armenian mel "sin;" Lithuanian melas "lie," Latvian malds "mistake," possbily also Greek blasphemein "to slander."
early 14c., " act, crime, or sin of killing another human being," in battle or not, from man (n.) + slaughter (n.). It gradually displaced manslaught, the earlier word, from Old English manslæht (Anglian), manslieht (West Saxon), from slæht, slieht "act of killing" (see slay (v.)). Middle English also had man-quelling "murder, homicide" (late 14c.), and slaughter-man (late 14c.), "an executioner; a butcher."
Etymologically it is comparable to Latin homicide, but in legal use usually it is distinguished from murder and restricted to "simple homicide, unlawful killing of another without malice either express or implied."
Manslaughter differs from murder in not proceeding from malice prepense or deliberate, which is essential to constitute murder. It differs from excusable homicide, being done in consequence of some unlawful act, whereas excusable homicide happens in consequence of misadventure. Manslaughter has been distinguished as voluntary, where the killing was intentional in a sudden heat or passion without previous malice; and involuntary, where it was not intentional, but the slayer was at the time engaged in an unlawful act less than a felony, or doing a lawful act in an unlawful manner. [Century Dictionary]