benign

adjective
be·​nign | \bi-ˈnīn \

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 \ noun
benignly \ bi-​ˈnīn-​lē \ 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

Trump, who turned 48 last month, had been experiencing an issue with her kidney that her office described as benign but requiring medical attention. Kate Bennett And Betsy Klein, CNN, "Melania Trump released from the hospital after kidney procedure," 19 May 2018 Cynthia Bailey is back at home recovering after undergoing surgery for a lipoma tumor that turned out to be benign. Julie Mazziotta, PEOPLE.com, "Cynthia Bailey Underwent Surgery to Remove a Lipoma Tumor: 'I Was Scared'," 4 Apr. 2018 Most Americans view such efforts as benign — indeed, charitable. Scott Shane, New York Times, "Russia Isn’t the Only One Meddling in Elections. We Do It, Too.," 17 Feb. 2018 In 2018, even as current events and U.S. politics remain fraught, audiences are flocking to a more benign form of truth-telling. David Sims, The Atlantic, "What’s Driving Documentaries to Box-Office Success?," 11 July 2018 This is the cream and sugar of Shiru’s clever business model, a benign-seeming variation on the data-mining that drives so much modern commerce. Graham Ambrose, BostonGlobe.com, "Free coffee — with a catch — is coming to Massachusetts," 14 July 2018 The rise of China means that Australia can no longer take for granted a benign strategic environment. Tony Abbott, WSJ, "An Ally Sizes Up Donald Trump," 13 July 2018 Although amphibious ships are designed to support Marine landings against opposing military forces, they are also used for operations in permissive or benign situations where there are no opposing forces. Kris Osborn, Fox News, "Navy pushes for more amphibious assault ships," 13 July 2018 But not everyone sees the military presence as benign. Time, "Inside Camp Humphreys, South Korea: America's Largest Overseas Military Base," 13 July 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

10 Nov 2018

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

medical : not causing death or serious injury

: without cancer : not cancerous

: not causing harm or damage

benign

adjective
be·​nign | \bi-ˈnīn \

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 \

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

to clear from alleged fault or guilt

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

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!