Definition of benign
1 : of a gentle disposition : gracious a benign teacher
3a : of a mild type or character that does not threaten health or life; especially : not becoming cancerous a benign lung tumorb : having no significant effect : harmless environmentally benign
benignityplay \-ˈnig-nə-tē\ noun
benignlyplay \-ˈnīn-lē\ adverb
benign was our Word of the Day on 06/17/2016. Hear the podcast!
Examples of benign in a sentence
… substituting such benign power sources as the hybrid, the fuel cell, and the electric motor in place of … the internal-combustion engine. —Brock Yates, Car and Driver, May 2000
Rather than a benign fairytale creature that delivers babies, the marabou stork is an ugly, viciously predatory African bird that preys on flamingos … —James Polk, New York Times Book Review, 11 Feb. 1996
… her pulled-back black hair had gone gray in strange distinct bands, but she seemed much as he remembered her, solid and energetic, with a certain benign defiance. —John Updike, New Yorker, 23 May 1988
When she chose to smile on me, I always wanted to thank her. The action was so graceful and inclusively benign. —Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, 1969
We were happy to hear that the tumor was benign.
around campus he's known as a real character, but one whose eccentricities are entirely benign
Did You Know?
Benediction, benefactor, benefit, benevolent, and benign are just some of the English words that derive from the well-tempered Latin root bene, which means "well." Benign came to English via Anglo-French from the Latin benignus, which in turn paired bene with gignere, meaning "to beget." Gignere has produced a few offspring of its own in English. Its descendants include congenital, genius, germ, indigenous, and progenitor, among others. Benign is commonly used in medical contexts to describe conditions, such as noncancerous masses, that present no apparent harm to the patient. It is also found in the phrase benign neglect, which refers to an attitude or policy of ignoring an often delicate or undesirable situation that one has the responsibility to manage.
Origin and Etymology of benign
Middle English benigne, from Anglo-French, from Latin benignus, from bene + gignere to beget — more at kin
First Known Use: 14th century
BENIGN Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of benign for English Language Learners
medical : not causing death or serious injury
: without cancer : not cancerous
: not causing harm or damage
BENIGN Defined for Kids
Definition of benign for Students
1 : marked by gentleness and kindness a benign ruler a benign mood
2 : not causing death or serious harm a benign growth on the skin
benignlyadverb nodded benignly
Medical Definition of benign
1: of a mild type or character that does not threaten health or life benign malaria a benign liver cyst; especially : not becoming cancerous a benign lung tumor—compare malignant 1
2: having a good prognosis : responding favorably to treatment a benign psychosis
Seen and Heard
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