benign

adjective
be·​nign | \ bi-ˈnīn \

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 \ noun
benignly \ bi-​ˈnīn-​lē \ 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

Although a preference for traditional qualities in children is fine when managing a household — families, after all, are not democracies and children are not political citizens — imposing them on the political sphere is not entirely benign. Marc J. Hetherington, Vox, "How you think about raising children says a lot about your political views," 29 Nov. 2018 Another benign explanation is that despite extremely low unemployment, the economy still isn't really at full employment yet. Noah Smith, chicagotribune.com, "A job market this tight should deliver bigger raises," 11 June 2018 And germ cell growths are usually benign tumors called mature teratomas, the ACS explains. Korin Miller, SELF, "The Three Types of Ovarian Cancer You Should Know," 1 Nov. 2018 Most public-relations efforts are relatively benign. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Facebook has a growing morale problem," 15 Nov. 2018 While PDFs designed to manipulate search results are relatively benign, the people exploiting ThousandEyes’ security lapse could have used it to host much more nefarious things, such as links to malicious downloads. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "When a network intel provider’s domain serves fraudulent content, something is wrong," 15 Nov. 2018 Inside the Capital Beltway, Washington enjoyed idyllic weather over the weekend, but on the Atlantic Ocean shore, things were less benign. Washington Post, "4 shootings reported in 8 hours Saturday," 9 July 2018 None of this means that today’s benign consensus is wrong. Spencer Jakab, WSJ, "Market Anniversary an Occasion for Caution, Too," 9 Mar. 2018 While a bloody nipple discharge could mean there's a benign tumor or cancer symptoms, a greenish, yellowish discharge can be a sign of a breast infection. Yerin Kim, Seventeen, "Why Are There Bumps on My Nipples?," 11 Oct. 2018

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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6 Jan 2019

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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

medical : not causing death or serious injury

: without cancer : not cancerous

: not causing harm or damage

benign

adjective
be·​nign | \ bi-ˈnīn \

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 \

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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