Definition of benevolent
1a : marked by or disposed to doing good a benevolent donorb : organized for the purpose of doing good a benevolent society
2 : marked by or suggestive of goodwill benevolent smiles
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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
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 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 Land, 1991
a gift from a benevolent donor
He belonged to several benevolent societies and charitable organizations.
Did You Know?
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.
Origin and Etymology of benevolent
Middle English, from Latin benevolent-, benevolens, from bene + volent-, volens, present participle of velle to wish — more at will
First Known Use: 15th century
BENEVOLENT Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of benevolent for English Language Learners
: kind and generous
: organized to do good things for other people
BENEVOLENT Defined for Kids
Seen and Heard
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