Have you ever pretended to be sick or hurt to get out of taking a test or doing a chore? Then you, my dear, are a malingerer, and should be ashamed of yourself. Shape up!

Knowing that the prefix mal is from the Latin for “bad,” we can tell right off that being a malingerer is not a good thing. This noun form of the verb malinger comes from the French malingre which means “sickly.” (Obviously, it’s bad to pretend to be sick.) In Jack London’s Call of the Wild, the new dog, Pike, is referred to as “a clever malingerer and thief,” giving a clear negative context to the word.

Definitions of malingerer
  1. noun
    someone shirking their duty by feigning illness or incapacity
    synonyms: shammer, skulker
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    type of:
    shirker, slacker
    a person who shirks his work or duty (especially one who tries to evade military service in wartime)
Commonly confused words

Vocabulary Shout-Out: William Styron for "Malingerer"

The title character in William Styron's novel The Confessions of Nat Turner uses words with Biblical heft; so many times, in fact, we were able to create a Vocabulary List from one sentence alone.

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Word Family

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