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

But Trump has shown a knack for turning even the most benign topics into political wedges. Los Angeles Times, "Trump and the hurricane: How much damage did he do?," 13 Sep. 2019 Here's the most benign reason: Williams was playing a potentially historic match against Canada's Bianca Andreescu in the final; any tennis fan would want to be there, let alone a close friend like Meghan. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, "Duchess Meghan turns up at U.S. Open to watch pal Serena Williams try to make history," 7 Sep. 2019 Others will acknowledge misbehavior, but frame it in the most benign terms: as immaturity, a mistake or a lapse. Braden Bell, Washington Post, "Eight things for parents to keep in mind when dealing with school discipline issues," 6 Sep. 2019 Both bowls and spoons have always been associated with children; spoons are the most benign utensils, lacking the sharp edges of a knife or the spikes of a fork. Bee Wilson, WSJ, "The Comfort of Bowl Food," 13 July 2018 His condition was benign, the match withdrawal necessary but not alarming. Louisa Thomas, The New Yorker, "Félix Auger-Aliassime Is Trying to Stay Calm," 24 Aug. 2019 His sister is less convinced that the interest is so benign. Griff Witte, Washington Post, "After El Paso, the ‘send her back’ chant echoes to some as a prelude to murder," 13 Aug. 2019 In exchange for regularly bringing the seemingly benign items into the US, Leal was promised a car, a cell phone, and $35 per trip. Justin Rohrlich, Quartz, "Drug traffickers are recruiting smugglers on Facebook," 1 Aug. 2019 Amazon has banned some products it’s deemed to be dangerous, like hoverboards, but there are an endless number of other categories in which seemingly benign products may pose risks. Louise Matsakis, WIRED, "Amazon Warns Customers: Those Supplements Might Be Fake," 19 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

13 Oct 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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