If you malign someone, you badmouth them — just like the jilted girlfriend who tells the whole school her ex has bad breath and head lice.

When you habitually malign people, you risk being described as "a malign influence" — in this case, malign is an adjective that describes a harmful or even evil person or thing. Whichever way you use the word, its connection to wickedness can be found in its Latin root, malignus, "wicked or bad-natured," which combines male, or "badly" and -gnus, "born."

Definitions of malign
  1. verb
    speak unfavorably about
    synonyms: badmouth, drag through the mud, traduce
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    type of:
    asperse, besmirch, calumniate, defame, denigrate, slander, smear, smirch, sully
    charge falsely or with malicious intent; attack the good name and reputation of someone
  2. adjective
    evil or harmful in nature or influence
    “prompted by malign motives”
    “believed in witches and malign spirits”
    “gave him a malign look”
    “a malign lesion”
    harmful or evil in intent or effect
    like a cancer; an evil that grows and spreads
    causing or capable of causing harm
    lacking kindness
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    benign, benignant
    pleasant and beneficial in nature or influence
    pleasant and agreeable
    not causing or capable of causing harm
    having or showing a tender and considerate and helpful nature; used especially of persons and their behavior
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  3. adjective
    having or exerting a malignant influence
    synonyms: evil, malefic, malevolent
    harmful or evil in intent or effect
Word Family

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