be·​nev·​o·​lence bə-ˈnev-lən(t)s How to pronounce benevolence (audio)
: disposition to do good
a king known for his benevolence
: an act of kindness
: a generous gift
: 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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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 Other scientists have said Neanderthals may have provided care to sick or injured members of their group with the expectation of a reciprocal benefit, rather than out of benevolence. Frances Vinall, Washington Post, 27 June 2024 Starlight), a member of the Seven who questions their benevolence. Jessica Sager, Peoplemag, 14 June 2024 Her works stand out for their benevolence, treating drama in a soft and poetic way. Ryan Lattanzio, IndieWire, 14 June 2024 Among the many local faith communities that offered benevolence were First Baptist, where Daryl was a member, and New Zion, where Michael attends. Ebony Flake, Essence, 5 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for benevolence 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'benevolence.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see benevolent

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near benevolence

Cite this Entry

“Benevolence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


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

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