be·​nev·​o·​lence | \ bə-ˈnev-lən(t)s How to pronounce benevolence (audio) , -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

In these cases, solidarity was not an expression of empathy or benevolence, but the response required by an understanding of one’s own unacceptable complicity. Astra Taylor, The New Republic, "One for All," 26 Aug. 2019 The supposed benevolence of paternalism could no longer shield its fundamental assumptions of hierarchy and supremacy. Drew Gilpin Faust, The Atlantic, "Race, History, and Memories of a Virginia Girlhood," 18 July 2019 Ikea, despite its image of benevolence, has been repeatedly accused of union-busting tactics in Canada and in the United States. Kate Wagner, Curbed, "The budget furniture dilemma," 24 July 2019 To outsiders, the Nordic model may seem governed by benevolence, by a collectivist spirit that places value on ensuring that no one goes without fundamental needs like health care and housing. Peter S. Goodman, New York Times, "The Nordic Model May Be the Best Cushion Against Capitalism. Can It Survive Immigration?," 11 July 2019 Confucius stressed the cultivation of personal qualities such as benevolence, reciprocity, and filial piety. National Geographic, "Who was Confucius?," 26 Mar. 2019 The idea that wages are a burden on capital that diminishes its ability to employ creates the adversarial relationship between capital and labor, and at the same time makes employment a benevolence. Marilynne Robinson, Harper's magazine, "Is Poverty Necessary?," 10 June 2019 Legacy of benevolence Cyrus the Great died around 529 B.C., while campaigning against defiant nomadic tribes around the Caspian Sea. National Geographic, "Who was Cyrus the Great?," 6 May 2019 In short, to keep your benevolence from backfiring, tell your children what their children could be getting as an inheritance, and ask how your children feel about it. Glenn Ruffenach, WSJ, "If You Want Your Grandchildren to Inherit Some of Your Money," 26 Nov. 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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Benford's Law


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Last Updated

11 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for benevolence

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

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be·​nev·​o·​lence | \ bə-ˈne-və-ləns How to pronounce benevolence (audio) \

Kids Definition of benevolence

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miscellaneous remnants or debris

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