Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. One that has committed a crime; a criminal.
  • n. An evildoer.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A criminal or felon.
  • n. An evildoer.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An evil doer; one who commits a crime; one subject to public prosecution and punishment; a criminal.
  • n. One who does wrong by injuring another, although not a criminal. Opposite of benefactor.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One who does evil or injury to another: opposed to benefactor.
  • n. A heinous evil-doer; a law-breaker; a criminal or felon.
  • n. Synonyms Evil-doer, culprit, felon, convict.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. someone who has committed a crime or has been legally convicted of a crime

Etymologies

Middle English malefactour, from Latin malefactor, from malefacere, to do wrong : male, ill; see mel-3 in Indo-European roots + facere, to do; see dhē- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Latin male ("ill") + facere ("to do"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Dead in law, as a condemned malefactor is called a dead man because he is under a sentence of death; so sinners by the guilt of sin are under the sentence of the law and condemned already, John iii.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume VI (Acts to Revelation)

  • Sinners are dead in state, being destitute of the principles, and powers of spiritual life; and cut off from God, the fountain of life: and they are dead in law, as a condemned malefactor is said to be a dead man.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume VI (Acts to Revelation)

  • That she shall be exposed to shame: Thy lewdness and thy whoredoms shall be discovered (v. 29), as, when a malefactor is punished, all his crimes are ripped up, and repeated to his disgrace; what was secret then comes to light, and what was done long since is then called to mind.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume IV (Isaiah to Malachi)

  • Now the business of a judge with a malefactor is to convict him of his crimes, and then to pass sentence upon him for them.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume IV (Isaiah to Malachi)

  • When people clamor for justice in Israel but ignore massacres in Syria, Libya, starvation in North Korea, on and on -- are they interested in criticizing only if the malefactor is a Jew?

    Rabbi David Wolpe: Is It Anti-Semitism?

  • He saw himself as the shepherd dog does; until he had rounded him up the malefactor was his private responsibility, to be protected as well as cornered.

    The Tiger in the Smoke

  • In this instance the malefactor was a woman, not a man, and her name was Grizel Cochrane, member of (or at least sprung from) a noble family, which later produced one of the most famous seamen in the annals of naval history.

    Stories of the Border Marches

  • At the trial it was discovered that the malefactor was a baptized Jew, by the name of Wadetsky Minsk.

    Rabbi and Priest A Story

  • This simple monarch knew that if a malefactor were the terror of the mountain hamlets, his subjects would expect him personally to take arms and pursue the ruffian; and if he refused to do so, would very probably experiment with another king.

    The Crimes of England

  • 'Here is all the town bizzing with a fine piece of work,' she writes, 'and what would make the thing more noted (if it were only known) the malefactor is a PROTEGEE of his lordship my papa.

    David Balfour, a sequel to Kidnapped.

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