Malicious, malevolent, malignant, malign, spiteful are comparable when they mean disposed to do or to inflict evil or resulting from a disposition to do or to inflict evil.
A person or thing is malicious that is motivated or dictated by hatred or spite and, usually, by a desire to inflict injury and suffering or to see another in disgrace or an object of ridicule or contempt.
A person or thing is malevolent that evidences ill will or an intent to do evil, or a sinister influence.
A person or thing is malignant that is actuated or characterized by virulent ill will or extreme malevolence.
A person or thing is malign (see also SINISTER ) that harbors violent enmity or ill will or threatens extreme evil or danger; the term, in contrast with malignant, carries a stronger implication of potentiality and therefore need not suggest certainty of effect.
Spiteful implies a deep-seated malice or malevolence provoked especially by a desire to get even with others for real or fancied offenses; it suggests meanness or venomousness of temper and refers more often to utterances than to acts.