ben·​e·​fit | \ˈbe-nə-ˌfit \

Definition of benefit 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : something that produces good or helpful results or effects or that promotes well-being : advantage discounted prices and other benefits of a museum membership The benefits outweigh the risks of taking the drug. reaping the benefits of their hard work changes that will be to your benefit

b : useful aid : help without the benefit of a lawyer

2a : financial help in time of sickness, old age, or unemployment is on unemployment benefit a disability benefit a family on benefits

b : a payment or service provided for under an annuity, pension plan, or insurance policy collecting his retirement benefits

c : a service (such as health insurance) or right (as to take vacation time) provided by an employer in addition to wages or salary The job doesn't pay much, but the benefits are good.

3 : an entertainment or social event to raise funds for a person or cause holding a benefit to raise money for the school

4 archaic : an act of kindness : benefaction


benefited\ˈbe-​nə-​ˌfi-​təd \ also benefitted; benefiting also benefitting

Definition of benefit (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to be useful or profitable to tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy held a fund-raiser to benefit her campaign

intransitive verb

: to receive help or an advantage : to receive benefit patients who will benefit from the drug has benefited from his experiences in the military

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from benefit


benefiter \ˈbe-​nə-​ˌfi-​tər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for benefit

Synonyms: Noun

advantage, aid, asset, boon, help

Synonyms: Verb

advantage, avail, help, profit, serve

Antonyms: Noun

disadvantage, drawback, encumbrance, hindrance, impediment, minus

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of benefit in a Sentence


the benefits of fresh air and sunshine A benefit of museum membership is that purchases are discounted. There are many financial benefits to owning your own home. She is just now starting to reap the benefits of all her hard work. The benefits of taking the drug outweigh its risks. I see no benefit in changing the system now. We're lucky to be able to get the full benefit of her knowledge. He began collecting his retirement benefits when he was 65. He began collecting his retirement benefit when he was 65. The job doesn't pay much, but the benefits are good.


The new plan may benefit many students. medicines that benefit thousands of people The politician held a fund-raiser to benefit his campaign. Some critics say that the tax cuts only benefit wealthy people. He'll benefit by having experiences I never did.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In May, thousands of high-school students joined unionists and civil servants to protest Macron’s plan to cut 120,000 civil service jobs in addition to a reduction in benefits for France’s railway workers, who are unionized, public-sector employees. Jennifer Williams, Vox, "Embattled French President Macron announces concessions to quell weeks of violent protests," 11 Dec. 2018 The issue arose in a Vietnam veteran’s lawsuit seeking benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder. Jess Bravin, WSJ, "Three Conservative Justices Chide Supreme Court for Not Taking Case Touching on Abortion," 10 Dec. 2018 The lack of congestion also had benefits for public transport, with bus speeds on one highway increasing by 14 percent. Jon Porter, The Verge, "Madrid’s ban on polluting vehicles cuts traffic by nearly 32 percent in some areas," 3 Dec. 2018 Apparently, these scientists believed vernix could have benefits for adult skin, and now, nearly a decade later, one company has essentially recreated it for use in a moisturizer. Marci Robin, Allure, ""Newborn" Cream Claims to Give Adults Baby-Soft Skin With a Surprising Ingredient," 29 Oct. 2018 While research tells us that there may be potential benefits for some people, if severe food restrictions provoke any anxiety, then just don't do it. Good Housekeeping, "Everything You Need to Know About Intermittent Fasting, According to a Nutritionist," 11 Oct. 2018 Many environmental rules hinge on cost-benefit analyses. Umair Irfan, Vox, "The National Climate Assessment shows that the costs of doing nothing on climate change are immense.," 26 Nov. 2018 Draconian environmental policies are the result of a cost-benefit analysis that discounts the interests of workers. Jason Willick, WSJ, "Conservatives and the Politics of Work," 23 Nov. 2018 That’s the calculus at places like Trellis: How young is reasonable in order to maximize quality without tipping the cost-benefit scale? Laura Regensdorf, Vogue, "At 35, I Went to a Millennial Egg-Freezing Clinic—and Now I’m Rethinking My Future," 12 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Is there one room in a home that can really benefit from a mix of patterns? Monique Valeris, ELLE Decor, "Textile Designer Rebecca Atwood on the Right Way to Mix Patterns in a Room," 25 Sep. 2018 Proceeds from the tip jar will benefit Alive Center and Loaves & Fishes. Michelle Mullins, Naperville Sun, "This Week in Naperville," 13 July 2018 Data suggest that some people benefit from certain drugs in specific situations—for example, surgeons using modafinil—but larger population-wide studies report lesser gains, and conflicting results. Arran Frood, Scientific American, "Use of “Smart Drugs” on the Rise," 6 July 2018 Another possibility is that corporate concentration may have increased because of lax antitrust enforcement or the growing heft of companies benefiting from network effects, like internet firms. The Economist, "Companies appear to be gaining market power," 5 July 2018 Aides have presented the president with evidence that America has benefited quite a lot from being a part of the WTO, which has enjoyed broad bipartisan support since the U.S. effectively founded it in 1995. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Trump’s Big Trade War Bluff," 5 July 2018 Small bites, water and libations are all provided, so the festival asks for a donation upon entry to benefit Hope for a Day, a local suicide-prevention organization. Adam Lukach, RedEye Chicago, "5 things to do this weekend in Chicago," 5 July 2018 Through Project Row Houses, a nonprofit organization that uses art to help empower and benefit the community, the student will have an opportunity to discover historical Black experiences. Niki Mcgloster,, "Black Woman Arrested After Climbing The Statue of Liberty In Protest," 5 July 2018 More than $20,000 in donations have poured in since a GoFundMe page was created to benefit the family. Steve Burns, ajc, "BREAKING: Metro Atlanta PTSA president killed in Bahamas boat explosion," 3 July 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of benefit


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for benefit


Middle English, from Anglo-French benfet, from Latin bene factum, from neuter of bene factus, past participle of bene facere


see benefit entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about benefit

Statistics for benefit

Last Updated

16 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for benefit

The first known use of benefit was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for benefit



English Language Learners Definition of benefit

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a good or helpful result or effect

: money that is paid by a company (such as an insurance company) or by a government when someone dies, becomes sick, stops working, etc.

: something extra (such as vacation time or health insurance) that is given by an employer to workers in addition to their regular pay



English Language Learners Definition of benefit (Entry 2 of 2)

: to be useful or helpful to (someone or something)

: to be helped


ben·​e·​fit | \ˈbe-nə-ˌfit \

Kids Definition of benefit

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a good or helpful result or effect the benefits of fresh air

2 : useful assistance : help … he is an orphan whom I raised myself without benefit of governess …— Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

3 : money paid in time of death, sickness, or unemployment or in old age (as by an insurance company)


benefited; benefiting

Kids Definition of benefit (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to be useful or profitable to The changes will benefit everyone.

2 : to be helped He'll benefit from new experiences.



Legal Definition of benefit 

1 : something that provides an advantage or gain specifically : an enhancement of property value, enjoyment of facilities, or increase in general prosperity arising from a public improvement

general benefit

: a benefit to the community at large resulting from a public improvement

special benefit

: a benefit from a public improvement that directly enhances the value of particular property and is not shared by the community at large

Note: In proceedings for a partial taking for the purpose of a public improvement, the condemning authority may use a special benefit to the remaining land as a set-off against the landowner's damages for the taking.

2 in the civil law of Louisiana : a right especially that serves to limit a person's liability

benefit of discussion

: the right of a surety being sued to compel the suing creditor to sue the principal first

benefit of division

: the right of a surety being sued to compel the suing creditor to also sue the cosureties also : the right of the surety to be liable only for his or her proportionate share of the debt

benefit of inventory

: the right of an heir to be held liable for the debts of the estate only to the extent of the assets in the estate

Note: The heir obtains the benefit of inventory by having a qualified public officer (as a notary public) make an inventory of the assets in the estate within the time period set by statute.

3a : financial help in time of disability, sickness, old age, or unemployment

b : payment or service provided for under an annuity, pension plan, or insurance policy — see also death benefit

c : fringe benefit

Other Words from benefit

benefit verb

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on benefit

What made you want to look up benefit? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a knickknack or trinket

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!