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 benign (audio) \ noun
benignly \ bi-​ˈnīn-​lē How to pronounce benign (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 Its impact on the broader American society was relatively benign, a useful motivation for Christians to act in godly ways. Matthew Avery Sutton, The New Republic, "The Capitol Riot Revealed the Darkest Nightmares of White Evangelical America," 14 Jan. 2021 But for Dennis Rohr 77, even learning that an acquaintance had died from Covid-19 a few days after sitting beside him at a dinner table has not changed his opinion that the disease is relatively benign. New York Times, "With 11 Million Cases in the U.S., the Coronavirus Has Gotten Personal for Most People," 15 Nov. 2020 Their vision for China – as a liberalizing, benign, and responsible power that would integrate with the world – overrode concerns about incidents such as Beijing’s violent crushing of pro-democracy protests in and around Tiananmen Square in 1989. Ann Scott Tyson, The Christian Science Monitor, "Fueling US-China clash, years of disconnects," 2 Oct. 2020 Polling place changes happen for a long list of reasons, often benign. Matt Vasilogambros, USA TODAY, "How catastrophic floods are making it harder for Black communities to vote," 25 Sep. 2020 That shake-up may not be as benign as central bankers or Presidents expect. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Jerome Powell’s Target, Everyone Else’s Problem," 3 Sep. 2020 Rousseau’s concept is that, human nature being essentially benign, the impulses of the general public inevitably tend toward the common good. John D. Hagen, National Review, "The Gospel of Jean-Jacques," 20 Aug. 2020 The sand improves traction on slippery surfaces and is environmentally benign. Tim Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "With snow on its way, here are the best removal products for winter weather in Chicago," 28 Dec. 2020 The presence of this protein, which is benign, triggers immune cells to construct protective antibodies against it. Annabelle Timsit, Quartz, "Moderna and BioNTech are changing pharma with drastically different business models," 23 Dec. 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

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Benign.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/benign. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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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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