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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Koepka became the first man to turn that impressive trick in nearly three decades by handling a Shinnecock Hills course that varied from beastly to benign. Washington Post, "Koepka’s golf legacy secured after 2nd straight Open win," 18 June 2018 Koepka became the first man to turn that impressive trick in nearly three decades by handling a Shinnecock Hills course that varied from beastly to benign. Barry Wilner, Houston Chronicle, "Brooks Koepka's golf legacy secured after 2nd straight US Open win," 18 June 2018 Others feel the wounds as freshly today as ever, reacting with extreme emotion to benign, random reminders in everyday life: a hand on a shoulder, a half smile from a stranger, the sight of a doctor’s office. Benedict Carey, New York Times, "More Than 150 Women Described Sexual Abuse by Lawrence Nassar. Will Their Testimony Help Them Heal?," 26 Jan. 2018 Iowa sophomore Luka Garza started this season in recovery after a nine-pound benign cyst was removed from his abdomen. Luke Meredith, The Seattle Times, "Sophomore Luka Garza on a tear for surging Hawkeyes," 5 Feb. 2019 Any initial volume boost comes mainly from post-procedural swelling, and benign cysts that form as the non-viable fat is dying off. Jolene Edgar, Town & Country, "The Most Overrated Cosmetic Procedures," 23 Sep. 2016 The surgeon Christina saw was equally unconcerned, agreeing that the lump was likely a benign cyst. Laura Munson, Good Housekeeping, "The Cancer Her Doctors Missed," 27 Feb. 2012 Personal trials, like a benign brain tumor in 1987, have shaped his efforts. Christina Binkley, WSJ, "Ralph Lauren Wants People to Feel Good About Their Country," 7 Nov. 2018 Political movements, even benign ones, can attract all sorts of extremists. German Lopez, Vox, "Trump: the media never blamed Obama for the Charleston church shooting," 30 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about benign

Listen to Our Podcast about benign

Statistics for benign

Last Updated

14 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for benign

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on benign

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

WORD OF THE DAY

likely to have or produce good results

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

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!