Etymology: Middle English maligne, from Anglo-French, from Latin malignus, from male badly + gignere to beget — more at mal-, kin
Date: 14th century
a. evil in nature, influence, or effect ; injurious <the malign effects of illicit drugs> b. malignant, virulent 2. having or showing intense often vicious ill will ; malevolent Synonyms: see sinister • malignly adverb II. transitive verb Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French maligner to act maliciously, from Late Latin malignari, from Latin malignus Date: 15th century to utter injuriously misleading or false reports about ; speak evil of Synonyms: malign, traduce, asperse, vilify, calumniate, defame, slander mean to injure by speaking ill of. malign suggests specific and often subtle misrepresentation but may not always imply deliberate lying <the most maligned monarch in British history>. traduce stresses the resulting ignominy and distress to the victim <so traduced the governor that he was driven from office>. asperse implies continued attack on a reputation often by indirect or insinuated detraction <both candidates aspersed the other's motives>. vilify implies attempting to destroy a reputation by open and direct abuse <no criminal was more vilified in the press>. calumniate imputes malice to the speaker and falsity to the assertions <falsely calumniated as a traitor>. defame stresses the actual loss of or injury to one's good name <sued them for defaming her reputation>. slander stresses the suffering of the victim <town gossips slandered their good name>.
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.