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.
Recent Examples of benevolent from the Web
Saddam saw himself as a fearsome, benevolent sovereign, a cultured and far-sighted man, despite having left his native country only twice and repeatedly plunging his people into disastrous wars.
His guilt does little to shore up his authority as the benevolent master who did right by his slave.
Imagine a line of home furnishings designed by benevolent aliens.
Reprieve makes people benevolent, and grateful, and therefore easier to be around.
A seemingly benevolent paternalism hung over that era; Smith was credited as a civil rights pioneer and his program seen as an emblem of a progressive, egalitarian South in stark contrast to the rich Jersey kids who went to Duke.
Despite his concerns about the deal, Mr. Ergen said a Trump administration may be benevolent on approving mergers.
The frustrating Uncle Tom house slave and the benevolent white benefactor.
There’s Carson, leaning easily back at the end, amused and confident, the outwardly cool and benevolent master of all American ceremonies, with whatever sadness that lurked within him left safely in the dressing room.
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.
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.
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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