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 If a system’s benevolence is measured by the living standards of the poor, then free-market capitalism receives high marks. Edward P. Lazear, National Review, "The Poor Fare Best Under Free-Market Capitalism," 9 Sep. 2020 Similar thinking guided the use of hooding at the Eastern Penitentiary of Pennsylvania, founded in the nineteenth century on Quaker principles of benevolence. Tasha Williams, The New Republic, "The American Horror of Hooding," 5 Sep. 2020 In the absence of an income for two months, Mishra’s family had to rely on the benevolence of his children’s school teachers in order to sustain themselves. Aarefa Johari, Quartz India, "In India’s financial capital, small businesses struggle to survive after the migrant exodus," 28 June 2020 Brainwashing starts at an early age North Korean schoolchildren are taught the benevolence of their leaders from an early age. Fox News, "Kim Jong Un and North Korea's cult of personality explained," 28 Apr. 2020 Only when the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come brings Scrooge face-to-face with his own impermanence in the form of his tombstone does the old miser begin to show benevolence and compassion toward others. Dan Cable, Scientific American, "Coping with ‘Death Awareness’ in the COVID-19 Era," 13 May 2020 Casablancas offers in a moment of pure benevolence. Jon Pareles, New York Times, "On ‘The New Abnormal,’ the Strokes Flip Nostalgia Toward the Future," 13 Apr. 2020 The piling up of ghastly episodes punctured the myth of Big Tech’s unerring wisdom and benevolence. Gilad Edelman, Wired, "The 2020 Election Shows the Techlash Has Only Gone So Far," 8 Mar. 2020 Each of these episodes is shattered by violence, yes, but also leavened by varying degrees of progress, despite the persistence of white people convinced of their superiority, innocence and benevolence. Ron Charles, Washington Post, "‘The Revisioners’ reminds us of slavery’s long reach, through the generations," 10 Dec. 2019

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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Time Traveler for benevolence

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for benevolence

Last Updated

12 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Benevolence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2020.

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

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