I hadn't heard the word malwebolence before today. But it gets 144,00 Google™ hits. Many of them are recent. It's malevolence on the web.
Rich Hannon in a recent Spectrum blog post uses it in the title of a NYTimes article he read about trolls and the online havoc they wreak.
It's an interesting word. Mal- is of course the prefix indicating general … uh … badness -- be it through evil or neglect. Malevolent malnourished maladroit malign &c The sense of willful evil isn't still there in all these words tho malus was evil in Latin.
Web is the locative infix. No it's not. But I've not used the phrase locative infix yet on this blog and when it comes to a bad joke I believe better wrong than never.
We can't get too technical with coined terms such as these. They don't often follow an etymological orthodoxy. So the -ol- would normally be connected to a -volen- base (a form based on the present participle of Latin velle; desire, will) that we find as the center piece in male-/ bene-/ [volen] \-t \-ce and other related frankenwords.
Hannon suggests another etymology:
Malwebolence is a newly coined word that hacks together mal (bad), web and violence.
I'm not sure where Hannon gets this analysis. The web story doesn't offer the etymology. Tho he says the title is "Malwebolence – The Trolls Among Us" the online page itself only uses "The Trolls Among us" as the title. There is a link to the story under the heading Malwebolence - The World of Web Trolling. But the body of the story doesn't even have the word. Is it in the print version? Any readers out there?
Well -- whoever did it -- throwing violence in there is an unnecessary stretch. It's etymologically gratuitous violence. I'll stick with web malevolence as the influence.
But what I like most about the word is the solid phonological link to the original. If all we're doing to malevolence is using -web- instead of -ev- we have a nice ∅ → w / l__ɛ which makes some sense. It's almost vocalization. In a while we'll test the pronunciation to see if the l can sustain an adjacent w without being swallowed up into pure vocalization. And then of course going from v to b requires only a tiny little change from +continuant to -continuant. The sound is still consonantal. It's still voiced. And since English doesn't have a labiodental stop the loss of continuance naturally nudges it over into the bilabial column. And phonologically they're both just [labial] anyway. Gorgeous.