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

Even services that seem benevolent, like smoking-cessation and mental health apps, have been quietly sharing sensitive info about their users. Kim Komando, USA TODAY, "When smart devices watch you, what do they do with the data?," 20 June 2019 The aliens are mostly benevolent, but any overstepping of boundaries is met with furious anger—thus complicating the relationship between Water Island's inhabitants and their new neighbors. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Ars To-Be-Read: Our most anticipated books for the second half of 2019," 8 June 2019 Simone Strasser is a benevolent German in this mix, working as a translator—and a Gestapo officer, played by Tom Wlaschiha (last seen in Game of Thrones), has his eye on her. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "Das Boot," 14 June 2019 Here are six contenders for benevolent corporations or art-loving Warbuckses to consider acquiring for our downtown. Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "6 works from Sculpture Milwaukee 2019 that the city should keep here permanently," 13 June 2019 Gentle Giants The intellect and inquisitiveness of manta rays, which have the largest brain of all fish, makes for truly mesmerizing encounters with these benevolent behemoths. Alexandra Kirkman, Fortune, "These Sea Creatures Are Another Big Reason to Go to the Maldives," 8 June 2019 Those who take them should get the setting right—a safe place, with benevolent people and a sober friend around. The Economist, "Magic mushrooms should be decriminalised," 7 June 2019 Xenophon, author of Cyropaedia A man of mercy The benevolent nature of Cyrus’s reign took many forms. National Geographic, "Who was Cyrus the Great?," 6 May 2019 Foreign experts are noticing that Chinese elites are increasingly willing to talk about how the West is finished and how China is the benevolent hegemon of the future. Margaret Macmillan, WSJ, "1989: The Year of Unfulfilled Hopes," 28 Dec. 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

4 Jul 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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