1. A desire to harm others or to see others suffer; extreme ill will or spite.
a. The intent to commit an unlawful act without justification or excuse.
b. An improper motive for an action, such as desire to cause injury to another.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin malitia, from malus, bad; see mel-3 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.