benign

adjective
be·​nign | \ bi-ˈnīn How to pronounce benign (audio) \

Definition of benign

1a : of a mild type or character that does not threaten health or life especially : not becoming cancerous a benign lung tumor
b : having no significant effect : harmless environmentally benign
2 : of a gentle disposition : gracious a benign teacher
3a : showing kindness and gentleness benign faces
b : favorable, wholesome a benign climate

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Other Words from benign

benignity \ bi-​ˈnig-​nə-​tē How to pronounce benign (audio) \ noun
benignly \ bi-​ˈnīn-​lē How to pronounce benign (audio) \ adverb

Benign Shares Its Latin Root With Many Words

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.

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
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Recent Examples on the Web The obvious question for investors is whether these conditions—benign for manufacturers, less so for consumers—can last. Stephen Wilmot, WSJ, 29 July 2021 But Adams’ worm farm is the type of benign, isolating activity that might be necessary for players across the NBA right now. Scott Kushner, NOLA.com, 13 Jan. 2021 Despite their different priorities, the three shared a vision of India that preserved its historic heterogeneity, where secularism meant not an absence of religion from the public sphere but a benign, if sometimes mushy, affinity for all faiths. New York Times, 1 Dec. 2020 Recalling his jazz-musician father’s use of marijuana, Nas introduces the viewers to the idea of the drug as a benign and presumed part of life rather than as an illicit vice — a conduit rather than an affliction. Hank Stuever, Washington Post, 17 Nov. 2020 Zoom call etiquette would seem to be a fairly benign evolution of conference call etiquette, which some of us had trouble mastering. Robin Abcarian Los Angeles Times (tns), Star Tribune, 21 Oct. 2020 The only person being bullied here was the reporter who asked the benign question. BostonGlobe.com, 21 Aug. 2021 There are a number of abnormal but typically benign growths that can occur on your reproductive organs, including ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, uterine polyps, and cervical polyps. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, 13 Aug. 2021 On the sobering side, benign outcomes are also less likely, and uncertainty a less viable excuse for inaction. Greg Ip, WSJ, 12 Aug. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'benign.' 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 benign

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for benign

Middle English benigne, from Anglo-French, from Latin benignus, from bene + gignere to beget — more at kin

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Time Traveler for benign

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The first known use of benign was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near benign

benighted

benign

benignancy

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Last Updated

5 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Benign.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/benign. Accessed 17 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for benign

benign

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of benign

: not causing death or serious injury
: without cancer : not cancerous
: not causing harm or damage

benign

adjective
be·​nign | \ bi-ˈnīn How to pronounce benign (audio) \

Kids Definition of benign

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

Other Words from benign

benignly adverb nodded benignly

benign

adjective
be·​nign | \ bi-ˈnīn How to pronounce benign (audio) \

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 sense 1
2 : having a good prognosis : responding favorably to treatment a benign psychosis

More from Merriam-Webster on benign

Nglish: Translation of benign for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of benign for Arabic Speakers

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