benign

adjective be·nign \ bi-ˈnīn \
Updated on: 21 Nov 2017

Definition of benign

1 a : 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
3 a : showing kindness and gentleness
  • benign faces
b : favorable, wholesome
  • a benign climate

benignity

play \-ˈnig-nə-tē\ noun

benignly

play \-ˈnīn-lē\ adverb

benign was our Word of the Day on 06/17/2016. Hear the podcast!

Examples of benign in a Sentence

  1. … substituting such benign power sources as the hybrid, the fuel cell, and the electric motor in place of … the internal-combustion engine. —Brock YatesCar and DriverMay 2000
  2. Rather than a benign fairytale creature that delivers babies, the marabou stork is an ugly, viciously predatory African bird that preys on flamingos … —James PolkNew York Times Book Review11 Feb. 1996
  3. … 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 UpdikeNew Yorker23 May 1988
  4. When she chose to smile on me, I always wanted to thank her. The action was so graceful and inclusively benign. —Maya AngelouI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings1969
  5. We were happy to hear that the tumor was benign.

  6. around campus he's known as a real character, but one whose eccentricities are entirely benign

Recent Examples of benign from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of benign

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

BENIGN Defined for English Language Learners

benign

adjective

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

benign

adjective be·nign \ bi-ˈnīn \

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

benignly

adverb
  • nodded benignly

Medical Dictionary

benign

adjective be·nign \ bi-ˈnīn \

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

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

food, provisions, or a tasty dish

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!