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

The app also hunts for scanned pages from an Arabic dictionary and benign expressions of religiosity like portions of the Quran or a photo of the Dalai Lama. Sigal Samuel, Vox, "China is installing a secret surveillance app on tourists’ phones," 3 July 2019 Often cakes are a benign outlet for people’s naughty sides, and bakers are deployed as messengers for life’s frostier occasions. Kara Baskin, BostonGlobe.com, "Yes, you can have your 3-D octopus-shaped cake and eat it, too," 1 July 2019 Two decades ago, Chicago got caught up in cow fever — not bovine spongiform encephalopathy, but a benign form of art-cow madness. Steve Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "Chicago’s 'Cows on Parade’ is back for July, celebrating 20-year anniversary with one last roundup," 28 June 2019 In comparison, Father Serra might seem to some benign. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "The Cowardly Incoherence of Name-Changing, Statue-Toppling, and other Iconoclasms," 25 June 2019 The high number of false positives combined with false negatives suggests that the device is often unable to differentiate reliably between actual instances of aggression and benign vocalizations. Jeff Kao And Jack Gillum, ProPublica, "Methodology: How We Tested an Aggression Detection Algorithm," 25 June 2019 With fine-needle aspiration, a cheap but very effective test, a hollow needle removes cells from the mass that are then viewed under a microscope to see if the tumor is malignant or benign. Texas A&m University, Houston Chronicle, "PET TALK: Preparation is key to combatting pet cancer," 20 June 2019 Attackers have similarly ridden on the legitimacy of Google services to distribute malicious links that appeared to be benign Google Docs links. Lily Hay Newman, WIRED, "Tricky Scam Plants Phishing Links in Your Google Calendar," 17 June 2019 Making birdies on the benign opening stretch is a prerequisite to shooting a great score here. Daniel Rapaport, SI.com, "Tiger's Roar Comes Too Little, Too Late at Pebble Beach," 16 June 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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7 Jul 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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