Printable Version
Pronunciation: mæ-lé-f&aelit;k-sén Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass

Meaning: A malicious act, a bad or evil deed.

Notes: Today's Good Word is the antonym of benefaction "a good deed". Just a benefaction comes with a regular personal noun, benefactor, and an odd adjective, beneficial, so comes malefaction with a normal personal noun, malefactor, and an irregular adjective, malefic, as 'malefic spell'. (Maleficial is now considered obsolete.)

In Play: This word is probably used more in reference to crimes: "When Izzie Badenoff was apprehended, he confessed to far more malefactions than he was suspected of." However, any act considered bad qualifies it for today's Good Word: "Kitty, pulling your pigtail once isn't severe enough malefaction to justify punishing your brother to the extent you are suggesting." By the time she looks up today's Good Word in a dictionary, this minor malefaction will be forgotten.

Word History: Today's word, as is often the case, comes from Latin malefactio, malefactionis "evil deed, evil-doing", the action noun of malefacere "to do evil" + a noun suffix. This word is a compound verb made up of malus "bad" + facere "to make, do". PIE mel- "false, bad, wrong" seems not to have flourished in any Indo-European languages aside from Latin. We see it in many words, however, that English borrowed from that language, for example malice, malady, malaria. The PIE word behind facere, dhe "to put, to do", on the other hand, made it on its own into many IE languages, including English, do and deed, Russian delat' "do, make" and Greek thema "that which is placed or laid down". (It would be a great malefaction were we to forget to thank George Kovac for recommending today's Good Word with a bad meaning.)

Dr. Goodword,

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