benevolent

adjective
be·​nev·​o·​lent | \ bə-ˈnev-lənt How to pronounce benevolent (audio) , -ˈne-və-\

Definition of benevolent

1a : marked by or disposed to doing good a benevolent donor
b : organized for the purpose of doing good a benevolent society
2 : marked by or suggestive of goodwill benevolent smiles

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Other Words from benevolent

benevolently adverb
benevolentness noun

Benevolent Has a Good History

Someone who is "benevolent" genuinely wishes other people well, which is not surprising if you know the word's history. "Benevolent" can be traced back to Latin bene, meaning "good," and velle, meaning "to wish." Other descendants of "velle" in English include "volition" ("the act or power of making one's choices or decisions"), "voluntary," and the rare word velleity (meaning either "the lowest degree of volition" or "a slight wish or tendency"). There is also one more familiar "velle" descendant - "malevolent," the antonym of "benevolent," a word describing one who is disposed to doing ill instead of good.

Examples of benevolent in a Sentence

Trees that size are like whales, sort of benevolent in their huge bulk … — Sebastian Junger, This Old House, March/April 1998 Grandfather sometimes turned on us like a rigged trap, and of course the benevolent gaze of the sage became the glare of the patriarch. — Darryl Pinckney, High Cotton, 1992 A Southern writer is allowed his eccentricities. The prevailing attitude is a kind of benevolent neglect. — Walker Percy, "Why I Live Where I Live," 1980, in Signposts in a Strange Land1991 They tore out the windows of the club's simple storefront and bricked them over and left two much smaller windows … so that the look of the club changed from that of a benevolent neighborhood organization to that of a paramilitary one. — "The Talk of the Town," New Yorker26 Feb. 1990 a gift from a benevolent donor He belonged to several benevolent societies and charitable organizations.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Interpol’s benevolent majority needs to assert itself, and the Trump Administration can take the lead. The Editorial Page, WSJ, "Fixing Interpol’s Dictator Problem," 10 Feb. 2019 But, according to the paper, its departure was for its own good, a benevolent gesture by its owner. Reis Thebault, The Seattle Times, "The mystery of Julian Assange’s cat: Where will it go? What does it know?," 12 Apr. 2019 His jacket snapped in a wind that, in an almost consciously benevolent act, pushed him back from certain doom. Eric Kester, Popular Mechanics, "What Virtual Reality Needs Now Is This Immersive Playground With Wind Machines and Smoke," 10 May 2016 Science fiction typically portrays aliens either as evil forces looking to conquer Earth or as benevolent beings helping humans along the path to enlightenment. Samantha Nelson, The Verge, "George R.R. Martin’s Nightflyers asks whether humanity deserves to be saved," 29 Nov. 2018 And despite benevolent gestures on Giving Tuesday, nonprofits and small businesses will continue to suffer under Facebook’s arbitrary restrictions. Daniel Gallant, WSJ, "Facebook Censors at Random," 9 Dec. 2018 One of my favorite examples is Dr. Light, the benevolent robot inventor from the Mega Man series. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Smash Bros. Ultimate review: The best fighting game on any Nintendo system," 6 Dec. 2018 But there’s been a tangible shift recently in the witch spirit, from benevolent good vibes distributor to vengeful ass-kicker. Aimee Lutkin, Marie Claire, "Charmed, Sabrina, and the Return of the Dark Witch," 6 Sep. 2018 Some benevolent tech billionaire itching to make up for his or her products hijacking our attention should put together a trust that would financially allow every human being on earth to experience this particular natural oddity on horseback. Candice Rainey, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Colorado Ranch Retreat That Gives You a Real Taste of Cowboy Life," 20 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'benevolent.' 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 benevolent

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for benevolent

Middle English, from Latin benevolent-, benevolens, from bene + volent-, volens, present participle of velle to wish — more at will

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Statistics for benevolent

Last Updated

23 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for benevolent

The first known use of benevolent was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for benevolent

benevolent

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of benevolent

: kind and generous
: organized to do good things for other people

benevolent

adjective
be·​nev·​o·​lent | \ bə-ˈne-və-lənt How to pronounce benevolent (audio) \

Kids Definition of benevolent

1 : having a desire to do good : kindly a benevolent organization
2 : marked by or suggestive of a kindly feeling a benevolent face

Other Words from benevolent

benevolently adverb smiled benevolently

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Comments on benevolent

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