1 a : marked by or disposed to doing good
b : organized for the purpose of doing good
2 : marked by or suggestive of goodwill
Did You Know?
Someone who is benevolent genuinely wishes other people well, which is not surprising if you know the word's history. Benevolent can be traced back to Latin bene, meaning "good," and velle, meaning "to wish." Other descendants of velle in English include volition ("the act or power of making one's choices or decisions"), voluntary, and the rare word velleity (meaning either "the lowest degree of volition" or "a slight wish or tendency"). There is also one more familiar velle descendant: malevolent is the antonym of benevolent, and describes one who is disposed to doing ill instead of good.
"The sky above was blue, the whole scene lit by a bright benevolent sun on that crisp winter day." — Arnold Thomas Fanning, The Irish Times, 2 June 2018
"At the center is a boy who is poor but honest, brave and hard-working—attributes that eventually attract the attention of an older, well-off and benevolent stranger who, accustomed to greedy jerks, is moved by the strength of his character and helps to lift him from indigence." — Ginia Bellafante, The New York Times, 3 June 2018
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Word Family Quiz
What 6-letter adjective is derived from Latin bene and describes things that are harmless or people who are gracious?VIEW THE ANSWER
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