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

In a professional context, pixel-tracking is a fairly benign tool; it can be used for content marketing, lead generation, or reëngagement. Anna Wiener, The New Yorker, "What the Superhuman Controversy Reveals About the Shifting Ethics of Software," 17 July 2019 Look at two seemingly benign launches that may mean big business down the line. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "How Amazon sunk its talons into your home," 12 July 2019 Take, for example, the seemingly benign case of the course-cutting amateur runner. Martin Fritz Huber, Outside Online, "Frank Meza’s Death and the Running Internet Mob," 9 July 2019 Activity can help doctors distinguish between a rapidly growing tumor and a benign mass of cells. Julie Grisham, Scientific American, "Faster, clearer PET images offer new views on disease," 9 July 2019 Many facilities portray baths as a benign alternative to elephant riding and performances. Natasha Daly, National Geographic, "Suffering unseen: The dark truth behind wildlife tourism," 12 June 2019 But later on Wednesday, Melania finally stepped out for her first official public appearance since her May hospitalization for a benign kidney issue … while wearing a very appropriate outfit. Lisa Ryan, The Cut, "After Evading Public for Weeks, Melania Trump Appears in Carmen Sandiego–Esque Outfit," 6 June 2018 Trump had what her spokeswoman described as a medical procedure to treat a benign kidney issue on May 14 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Kate Bennett, CNN, "Melania Trump will not join travel to G7, North Korea summits," 3 June 2018 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

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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Last Updated

21 Jul 2019

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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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