verb (used without object)

  1. to pretend illness, especially in order to shirk one’s duty, avoid work, etc.


  1. (intr) to pretend or exaggerate illness, esp to avoid work

v.1820, from French malingrer “to suffer,” perhaps also “pretend to be ill,” from malingre “ailing, sickly” (13c.), of uncertain origin, possibly a blend of mingre “sickly, miserable” and malade “ill.” Mingre is itself a blend of maigre “meager” + haingre “sick, haggard,” possibly from Germanic (cf. Middle High German hager “thin”). The sense evolution may be through notion of beggars with sham sores. Related: Malingered; malingering; malingerer (1785). v.

  1. To feign illness or other incapacity in order to avoid duty or work.

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