"having an evil disposition toward another or others, wishing evil to others," c. 1500, from Old French malivolent and directly from Latin malevolentem (nominative malevolens) "ill-disposed, spiteful, envious," from male "badly" (see mal-) + volentem (nominative volens), present participle of velle "to wish" (see will (v.)). Related: Malevolently.
Entries linking to malevolent
word-forming element of Latin origin meaning "bad, badly, ill, poorly, wrong, wrongly," from French mal (adv.), from Old French mal (adj., adv.) "evil, ill, wrong, wrongly" (9c.), from Latin male (adv.) "badly," or malus (adj.) "bad, evil" (fem. mala, neuter malum), from Proto-Italic *malo-, from PIE *mol-o-, probably from PIE root *mel- (3) "false, bad, wrong."
Most Modern English words with this element are 19c. coinages. It generally implies imperfection or deficiency, but often it is simply negative (as in malfeasance, malcontent). It is equivalent to dys- and caco- of Greek origin and Germanic mis- (1).
The Germanic words are from PIE root *wel- (2) "to wish, will" (source also of Sanskrit vrnoti "chooses, prefers," varyah "to be chosen, eligible, excellent," varanam "choosing;" Avestan verenav- "to wish, will, choose;" Greek elpis "hope;" Latin volo, velle "to wish, will, desire;" Old Church Slavonic voljo, voliti "to will," veljo, veleti "to command;" Lithuanian velyti "to wish, favor," pa-velmi "I will," viliuos "I hope;" Welsh gwell "better").
Compare also Old English wel "well," literally "according to one's wish;" wela "well-being, riches." The use as a future auxiliary was already developing in Old English. The implication of intention or volition distinguishes it from shall, which expresses or implies obligation or necessity. Contracted forms, especially after pronouns, began to appear 16c., as in sheele for "she will." In early use often -ile to preserve pronunciation. The form with an apostrophe ('ll) is from 17c.
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."
updated on November 06, 2018
a gossipy malevolent old woman
failure made him malevolent toward those who were successful