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 Sometimes, as in the case of Britain’s Conservative Party, this takes the form of a relatively benign appeal to working-class traditionalism. Washington Post, "Explaining the GOP’s mix of plutocrats and populists," 10 July 2020 And his presence, though benign, has rankled some who didn’t like the idea of a guy sitting on the sidewalk all day. Kevin Fagan, SFChronicle.com, "Bookworm, 82, has marked his place outside Opera Plaza shop for 30 years," 5 July 2020 And the lobster tweet is a relatively benign lie, more in the braggadocio category. Louis Menand, The New Yorker, "This Fourth of July, Consider Trump’s Lobster Fib," 4 July 2020 But while the megaphones of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were once considered relatively benign, people now widely recognize that the amplification is abused widely, and that the body politic has suffered. Steven Levy, Wired, "eBay’s Harassment Campaign Didn’t Happen in a Vacuum," 19 June 2020 At first, the stories may seem relatively benign (and sometimes a little funny), but there is an insidious dynamic at the root of them. refinery29.com, "All The Police Food Conspiracy Theories Are Putting Workers Of Colour At Risk," 19 June 2020 While members have emphasized the more benign aspects of the relationship, such as recent cooperation on the coronavirus pandemic, the potential for military encirclement by countries has not gone unnoticed by Beijing. James Griffiths, CNN, "A border dispute with China may push India closer to some of Beijing's top rivals," 18 June 2020 One of the more ostensibly benign, but actually most consequential, measures is the spacing of desks 6 feet apart. David Zweig, Wired, "It’s Ridiculous to Treat Schools Like Covid Hot Zones," 24 June 2020 These benign activities now seem reckless, almost pornographic in their unmasked intimacy. Sophie Madeline Dess, The New Republic, "Temping for the One Percent," 24 June 2020

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

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

18 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Benign.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/benign. Accessed 5 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for benign

benign

adjective
How to pronounce benign (audio)

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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