1. One who has committed a crime; a criminal.
2. A wrongdoer or evildoer.
[Middle English malefactour, from Latin malefactor, from malefacere, to do wrong : male, ill; see mel-3 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots + facere, to do; see dhē- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
mal′e·faction (-făkshən) n.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.