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  • Noun

malfeasance

mal-FEE-zuhns

Context
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The dean of the public university was placed on paid leave in response to some mysterious, illegal act or malfeasance. No one is sure exactly what happened, but it is assumed that he’s guilty of some sort of misconduct or malfeasance. Once the dean is brought to trial for his malfeasance we may learn about his wrongdoing, but we’ll have to wait until that point.

Quiz: Who is likely to engage in malfeasance?

  • A child who is extremely upset at a parent about a punishment.
  • An elected official who doesn’t care about obeying the law.
  • A writer who does not check the source of some information.

Memory Hook
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Maul Not a Pleasant Force Would you consider the chief librarian taking a maul and using unpleasant force to break all the library's windows an act of malfeasance?

Examples
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  • Then along came Parmalat, as if to remind everyone that the dragons of corporate malfeasance and fraud had only nodded off, not left. —The Economist
  • WorldCom, Tyco, Arthur Andersen, Enron, HealthSouth and Adelphia instantly became cultural emblems of malfeasance as prosecutors accused company leaders of scheming to enrich themselves at the injury of others. —USA Today
  • A lot of corporate and governmental malfeasance has been committed by people who claim to be religious, but to me, talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words. —Cooking Light
  • The Nassau County Association, through its counsel, this afternoon filed formal charges of malfeasance in office against Sheriff Phineas A. Seaman and asked Governor Smith to remove him from office. —The New York Times

Word Ingredients
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mal bad, evil
feas make, do
-ance state or condition

An act of malfeasance is the “state or condition of the doing of something bad.”

Word Theater
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The Office Someone is caught in an act of pretty minor business malfeasance.
Malfeasance

Word Constellation
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Malfeasance