Malfeasance is an English term often used in a legal context. It describes an intentional act that is illegal or wrongful, usually committed by a person in a public or trusted position. In German, malfeasance could best be translated as „abuse of office“ or „misconduct“.

Origin and meaning

The word „malfeasance“ comes from the Anglo-French „malfaisance“, which means „malicious act“. It is composed of the Latin words „mal-„, which means „bad“ or „evil“, and „facere“, which means „to do“ or „to make“. The term entered the English language in the 17th century and has been used mainly in the legal and administrative fields since then.

Use in the legal system

In the English legal system, malfeasance is often used to describe misconduct by public officials or other people in positions of trust. This can take a number of forms, such as:

  1. Corruption: Bribery or the acceptance of bribes.
  2. Embezzlement: Unlawful use of funds or resources.
  3. Abuse of office: Using a position to gain personal advantage.

Examples and case studies

A common example of malfeasance would be a politician accepting bribes to influence certain political decisions. Another example could be a business executive using company resources for personal gain. In both cases, these are deliberate and illegal actions that undermine the trust of the public or the organization.

Legal consequences

Individuals accused of malfeasance can face serious legal consequences. This may include disciplinary action, removal from office, fines, or even imprisonment. In addition, such acts can significantly damage public trust in institutions and organizations.

Significance for daily life

Although malfeasance is often discussed in the context of politics or large organizations, it also has relevance for everyday life. It is a reminder of the importance of integrity and ethical behavior in all areas of life. Anyone who holds a position of trust, whether in government, business, or nonprofit organizations, should be aware of the responsibility that comes with that position.


Malfeasance is an important term in the English legal system that describes deliberate and illegal actions by people in positions of trust. Understanding this term can help one recognize and appreciate the importance of integrity and responsibility in various areas of life.

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