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See more synonyms for benign on Thesaurus.com
  1. having a kindly disposition; gracious: a benign king.
  2. showing or expressive of gentleness or kindness: a benign smile.
  3. favorable; propitious: a series of benign omens and configurations in the heavens.
  4. (of weather) salubrious; healthful; pleasant or beneficial.
  5. Pathology. not malignant; self-limiting.
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Origin of benign

1275–1325; Middle English benigne < Anglo-French, Old French benigne (feminine), benin (masculine) < Latin benignus kind, generous, equivalent to beni-, combining form of bonus good (see bene-) + -gnus, derivative of the base of gignere to beget (see genitor, genus), hence, perhaps, “good by nature”; cf. malign
Related formsbe·nign·ly, adverbsu·per·be·nign, adjectivesu·per·be·nign·ly, adverbun·be·nign, adjectiveun·be·nign·ly, adverb


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Examples from the Web for benignly

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • There was need; for spring which touched the earth so benignly had not passed me by.

    The Strolling Saint

    Raphael Sabatini

  • Miriam benignly gazed—it was the perfection of indirectness.

    The Tragic Muse

    Henry James

  • Rachel never looked so truly and benignly happy as at the head of her table.

    Uncle Tom's Cabin

    Harriet Beecher Stowe

  • Billy, propped up among his cushions, smiled back at her benignly.

    Teddy: Her Book

    Anna Chapin Ray

  • Tell me—have you really been benignly shadowing me all this way?'

    The Dictator

    Justin McCarthy

British Dictionary definitions for benignly


  1. showing kindliness; genial
  2. (of soil, climate, etc) mild; gentle
  3. favourable; propitious
  4. pathol (of a tumour, etc) not threatening to life or health; not malignant
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Derived Formsbenignly, adverb

Word Origin

C14: from Old French benigne, from Latin benignus, from bene well + gignere to produce
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for benignly



early 14c., from Old French benigne (12c., "kind, benign, merciful, gracious;" Modern French bénin, fem. bénigne), from Latin benignus "kindly, kindhearted, friendly, generous," literally "well born," from bene "well" (see bene-) + gignere "to bear, beget," from genus "birth" (see genus). For similar sense evolution, cf. gentle, kind (adj.), generous. Related: Benignly.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

benignly in Medicine


  1. Of no danger to health, especially relating to a tumorous growth; not malignant.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

benignly in Science


  1. Not life-threatening or severe, and likely to respond to treatment, as a tumor that is not malignant. Compare malignant.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

benignly in Culture



A descriptive term for conditions that present no danger to life or well-being. Benign is the opposite of malignant.

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The term benign is used when describing tumors or growths that do not threaten the health of an individual.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.