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

Other Words from benevolent

benevolently adverb
benevolentness noun

Benevolent Has a Good History

One who is benevolent genuinely wishes other people well, a meaning reflected clearly in the word's Latin roots: benevolent comes from bene, meaning "good," and velle, meaning "to wish." Other descendants of velle in English include volition, which refers to the power to make one's own choices or decisions, and voluntary, as well as the rare velleity, meaning either "the lowest degree of volition" or "a slight wish or tendency." A more familiar velle descendant stands directly opposed to benevolent: malevolent describes someone or something having or showing a desire to cause harm to another person.

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The Marcoses remain enormously popular in their home province, where they are viewed as benevolent patrons. Feliz Solomon, WSJ, 10 May 2022 Musk’s argument is that under this method of corporate accountability, Twitter has lost its way and become censorious; that the company needs to hand power to a benevolent dictator — himself — to bring freedom back for more users. Matt Pearcestaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 15 Apr. 2022 The branding may seem aggressive, even sinister at first glance, but Snaxshot is a benevolent project in more ways than one. Bon Appétit, 20 Apr. 2022 The push asks people simply to pledge to perform one benevolent act every 24 hours. Kaitlyn Bancroft, The Salt Lake Tribune, 12 Apr. 2022 There’s more, much more: in one of the multiverses, humans have wriggly hotdogs for fingers; an extended gag involving butt plugs wears out its welcome; a divine but not benevolent entity named Jobu Tupaki wreaks havoc at every turn. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, 7 Apr. 2022 The two shared a vision of creating a world in which witches and wizards didn't hide from Muggles, but presided over a new benevolent world. Nick Romano,, 28 Feb. 2022 Our ancestral mother, Gaia is all of creation represented in the form of a benevolent female. New York Times, 8 Feb. 2022 Did her stylist expertly manage to make the ends of her bangs essentially melt into her length, or is Hathaway pals with a benevolent sorceress who added inches to the previously lash-skimming fringe? Marci Robin, Allure, 18 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

25 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Benevolent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for benevolent


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

More from Merriam-Webster on benevolent

Nglish: Translation of benevolent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of benevolent for Arabic Speakers


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