be·​nef·​ic bə-ˈne-fik How to pronounce benefic (audio)

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Benefic comes from Latin beneficus, which in turn comes from bene ("well") and facere ("to do"). The word was originally used by astrologers to refer to celestial bodies believed to have a favorable influence, and it's still used in astrological contexts. Benefic, beneficial, and beneficent are all synonyms, but there are shades of difference. Beneficial usually applies to things that promote well-being (as in "a beneficial dietary plan"), or that provide some benefit or advantage ("advice that proved financially beneficial"). Beneficent means doing or effecting good (as in "a beneficent influence"), but in particular it refers to the performance of acts of kindness or charity ("a beneficent organization"). Benefic, the rarest of the three, tends to be a bit high-flown, and it's mostly used to describe a favorable power or force.

Example Sentences

the belief that participation in sports has a benefic influence on a young person
Recent Examples on the Web Independently, both Jupiter and Venus are benefic planets that promote love, fortune, and expanded opportunities. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, 14 Aug. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'benefic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Latin beneficus, from bene + facere

First Known Use

1641, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of benefic was in 1641


Dictionary Entries Near benefic

Cite this Entry

“Benefic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Feb. 2023.

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