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 benignity (audio) \ noun
benignly \ bi-​ˈnīn-​lē How to pronounce benignly (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

Even online content that might seem relatively benign, such as a self-improvement video series for young men or blog posts skeptical of scientific findings, can be a gateway to darker ideas. NBC News, "A former white supremacist's warning: No one's properly addressing online extremism," 12 Aug. 2019 First Lady Melania Trump was hospitalized at Walter Reed Medical Center for several days in May 2018 for what the White House described as a benign kidney condition. CBS News, "Trump signs executive order to revamp care for kidney disease — live updates," 10 July 2019 Speaking a little differently may seem relatively benign. Alejandro De La Garza, Time, "This AI Software Is 'Coaching' Customer Service Workers. Soon It Could Be Bossing You Around, Too," 8 July 2019 The first wave of 78 players took advantage of the benign conditions, producing 23 scores below par. Karen Crouse, New York Times, "Graeme McDowell, After a Down Spell, Is in the Hunt for a 2nd U.S. Open Title," 13 June 2019 Often, a one-on-one interaction can seem benign, but bullying can cause serious damage over time. Eric Litke, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Kids in Crisis: Bullying is everywhere, but data on it isn't. Could tracking help?," 16 May 2019 The origins of Soranet seem jarringly benign for a site that has mobilized tens of thousands of protesters to take to the streets and an international effort to track down its administrators. Shawn Musgrave, The Verge, "How ICE used an obscure rule to pursue the owners of a Korean porn site," 27 Sep. 2018 In the largely unregulated world of dietary supplements, Ladder is pretty benign. Sara Harrison, WIRED, "The Wild, Unregulated World of Sports Supplements," 22 July 2019 In hindsight, with Barry now in the good graces of the organization, this may seem a benign way to part from your team with four years left on your contract. Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press, "Mitch Albom: Barry Sanders retirement a bombshell we should have saw coming," 21 July 2019

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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Last Updated

18 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for benign

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

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on benign

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for benign

Spanish Central: Translation of benign

Nglish: Translation of benign for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of benign for Arabic Speakers

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