be·​nev·​o·​lence | \bə-ˈnev-lən(t)s, -ˈne-və-\

Definition of benevolence 

1 : disposition to do good a king known for his benevolence

2a : an act of kindness

b : a generous gift

3 : a compulsory contribution or tax levied by certain English kings with no other authority than the claim of prerogative (see prerogative sense 1b)

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Did You Know?

Part of benevolence comes from the Latin root meaning "wish". The novels of Charles Dickens often include a benevolent figure who rescues the main characters at some point--Mr. Brownlow in Oliver Twist, Abel Magwitch in Great Expectations, Mr. Jarndyce in Bleak House, Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. To be benevolent, it helps to have money, but it's not necessary; kind assistance of a nonfinancial sort may turn out to be lifesaving benevolence as well.

Examples of benevolence in a Sentence

self-effacing as well as selfless, he refused all public acknowledgement of his many benevolences to the community her benevolence towards her employees was such that she actually let one live in her home temporarily

Recent Examples on the Web

Brian Cox is predictably fine as the patriarch, Logan Roy, whose absent-minded benevolence is often swamped by deep tides of anger and hurt pride. Mike Hale, New York Times, "Review: In HBO’s ‘Succession,’ the Family That Preys Together," 1 June 2018 The views of the prophet and his wife bent toward benevolence and rendered Jane infantilized, resulting in the offer of adoption and positioning her as their child in the eternities, as opposed to a plural wife, like so many white women. Mica Mcgriggs, Teen Vogue, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Celebrated the 40-Year Anniversary of the Lifted Ban Against Black Members," 11 July 2018 The prevailing honesty and benevolence on display Sunday barely lower the stakes for a full EU summit opening Thursday. Washington Post, "EU papers over differences after ‘frank’ migration talks," 24 June 2018 The Starkeeper, richly played by John Douglas Thompson, affects not so much benevolence toward his human charges as weariness at the frequency of their mistakes. Chris Jones,, "Jessie Mueller stars in a Broadway 'Carousel' that reminds us life is all too short," 13 Apr. 2018 Compared with the paintings, the photographs of nude older people in the exhibition display less benevolence. Jason Farago, New York Times, "‘Aging Pride’ Challenges the Cult of Youth," 8 Feb. 2018 While some of this arises from benevolence, there is also a potential cost savings. Philip Chard, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wellness programs don't make workplace stresses go away," 10 May 2018 Pullman’s experiment in benevolence collapsed in the wake of the dispute. Robert Mitchell, Washington Post, "Andrew Carnegie built 1,700 public libraries. But some towns refused the steel baron’s money.," 9 Apr. 2018 The promises of convenience and corporate benevolence may have so far limited much of the backlash against tech companies. Jacob Silverman, The New Republic, "The generational shift that made tech companies a cultural and political force," 28 Feb. 2018

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

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First Known Use of benevolence

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for benevolence

see benevolent

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Last Updated

23 Oct 2018

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

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be·​nev·​o·​lence | \bə-ˈne-və-ləns \

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to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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