Someone or something maleficent is evil, or hurtful to others on purpose.
muh LEFF uh sunt
Part of speech:
(Adjectives are describing words, like “large” or “late.”
They can be used in two ways:
1. Right before a noun, as in “maleficent intentions.”
2. After a linking verb, as in "Their intentions were maleficent.”)
If you're interested in this word's association with the evil sorceress from Disney's Sleeping Beauty, check out Ben Zimmer's awesome in-depth blog post about it.
How to use it:
It simply means "evil" or "harmful," so talk about a maleficent person or group of people (like a maleficent criminal or a maleficent gang) or a maleficent intention, statement, action, effect, force, power, spirit, belief, idea, etc.
You can follow it with the word "to" and talk about things that are maleficent to someone or something: "Insisting that things be done a certain rigid way is maleficent to creativity."
At issue is when to choose "maleficent" instead of the more familiar "malicious" or "malevolent" and instead of the much more simple "evil," "hurtful," or "harmful." I'd say "maleficent" is a good choice on the (hopefully) rare occasion when you need to be especially forceful and emphatic or when you just need a bit of drama in your word choice.
We no longer think of diseases as punishments from the gods, but as the results of perhaps equally maleficent forces--random chance, for one.
Imagine my shock when our sweet-tempered indoor kitty accidentally got outside and morphed into a hissing maleficent beast. It took two adults, a towel, and some oven mitts to get her back inside.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "maleficent" means when you can explain it without saying "nefarious" or "wicked."
Think of an actor or actress who did a great job playing a bad guy, and fill in the blanks: "(Person) oozed maleficence as (Character.)"
Example: "Heath Ledger oozed maleficence as the Joker."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
This month, challenge your powers of memory and recall (or just get ready to reign supreme on Wheel of Fortune) as we play with two-word phrases that you’ll find in a dictionary. We’ll start off with easy tasks and advance to harder ones as the month goes on. See the right answer to each question the following day. You might even see a new phrase that inspires your curiosity and makes you look it up. Have fun! (Note: Every dictionary recognizes a different set of two-word phrases. I used the OED to make these game questions.)
What four-letter word fits into each phrase below?
Try this one today:
What seven-letter word fits into each phrase below?
Woody Allen: “You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred.”
1. The opposite of MALEFICENT is
2. _____ exerts a maleficent power over us all at times.
A. The desire to help others without being rewarded for it
B. A sense of universal amazement
Answers are below.
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Make Your Point is crafted with love and brought to you each day for free by Mrs. Liesl Johnson, M.Ed., a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing in the verdant little town of Hilo, Hawaii. For writing tips, online learning, essay guidance, and more, please visit www.HiloTutor.com.
Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Many summers ago, I was tutoring a very smart boy to help him get ready for college. He'd used the word "maleficent" in his writing, and at the time I giggled and told him, "I think you mean 'malicious' or 'malevolent.' 'Maleficent' is the evil sorceress from Sleeping Beauty."
"Yeah, I know," he said. "But it's also a synonym of 'malevolent.'"
"Whaaaat?" I cracked open our dictionary and there it was. Not just an evil sorceress, but also a perfectly serviceable adjective. Lucky for me that I got to learn from that kiddo!
Let's say you were to pick Abhorrent, Imbroglio, or Rancor as a name for another fictional villain. What fittingly wretched characteristics would each have?
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