adjective be·nev·o·lent \bə-ˈnev-lənt, -ˈne-və-\

Definition of benevolent

  1. 1a :  marked by or disposed to doing good a benevolent donorb :  organized for the purpose of doing good a benevolent society

  2. 2 :  marked by or suggestive of goodwill benevolent smiles





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Examples of benevolent in a sentence

  1. Trees that size are like whales, sort of benevolent in their huge bulk … —Sebastian Junger, This Old House, March/April 1998

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. a gift from a benevolent donor

  6. He belonged to several benevolent societies and charitable organizations.

Recent Examples of benevolent from the web

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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


adjective be·nev·o·lent \bə-ˈnev-lənt, -ˈne-və-\

Definition of benevolent for English Language Learners

  • : kind and generous

  • : organized to do good things for other people

BENEVOLENT Defined for Kids


adjective be·nev·o·lent \bə-ˈne-və-lənt\

Definition of benevolent for Students

  1. 1 :  having a desire to do good :  kindly a benevolent organization

  2. 2 :  marked by or suggestive of a kindly feeling a benevolent face


adverb smiled benevolently

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up benevolent? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


feeling or affected by lethargy

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