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

Much will depend on the weather, and the early-week forecast looks to be fairly benign, with sunny skies and winds only reaching about 10 mph. Matt Bonesteel, courant.com, "Can anyone beat Brooks Koepka at Pebble Beach?," 11 June 2019 Some motives to have more foreign cases heard in mainland China may be relatively benign. The Economist, "A belt-and-road court dreams of rivalling the West’s tribunals," 6 June 2019 Assuming something as relatively benign as submarine-detecting microorganisms, does any country have the right to spread synthetic organisms—particularly those with military purposes—in international waters? Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Military Wants to Create Synthetic Life Forms to Track Enemies," 4 Dec. 2018 Even a trend as benign as fist-bumping has to reach a critical threshold before it is widely accepted. Roni Dengler, Science | AAAS, "How minority viewpoints become majority ones," 7 June 2018 Trump, who turned 48 last month, had been experiencing a recurring issue with her kidney that her office describes as benign. Jennifer Lance, Glamour, "First Lady Melania Trump Had Kidney Surgery This Morning," 14 May 2018 Then there are fibroids, benign (non-cancerous) tumors can grow in and on the uterus, sometimes leading to extremely heavy menstrual bleeding, the Mayo Clinic explains. Korin Miller, SELF, "Here’s When to See a Doctor About Period Clots," 1 Mar. 2019 This modified Nerf N-Strike Elite Mega CycloneShock Blaster renders previous mods benign and boring. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Nerf Gun Powered by Hydrogen Is So Powerful It Rips Darts Apart," 6 Dec. 2018 During Foy’s final year of high school, a tumor (ultimately benign) was found behind one of her eyes. Vogue, "5 Things You Didn’t Know About Claire Foy," 10 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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23 Jun 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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