from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun An inclination to perform kind, charitable acts.
  • noun A kindly act.
  • noun A gift given out of generosity.
  • noun A compulsory tax or payment exacted by some English sovereigns without the consent of Parliament.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The disposition to do good; the love of mankind, accompanied with a desire to promote their happiness; good will; kindness; charitableness.
  • noun An act of kindness; good done; charity given.
  • noun In England, an arbitrary contribution or tax illegally exacted in the guise of a gratuity to the sovereign, from the time of Edward IV., and forbidden by act of Parliament under William and Mary: sometimes used of similar exactions elsewhere.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The disposition to do good; good will; charitableness; love of mankind, accompanied with a desire to promote their happiness.
  • noun An act of kindness; good done; charity given.
  • noun A species of compulsory contribution or tax, which has sometimes been illegally exacted by arbitrary kings of England, and falsely represented as a gratuity.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun uncountable disposition to do good
  • noun uncountable charitable kindness
  • noun countable an altruistic gift or act

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun disposition to do good
  • noun an inclination to do kind or charitable acts
  • noun an act intending or showing kindness and good will


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Circa 1400, original sense “good will, disposition to do good”, Old French benivolence from Latin benevolentia (also directly from Latin), literally “good will”, from bene ("well, good") + volentia, form of volēns, form of volō ("I wish"), components cognate to English benefit and voluntary, more distantly will (via Proto-Indo-European).


  • In its more special meaning it has been supposed [134] to imply not merely the going forth of good towards an object, but the meeting of good in that object, the term benevolence being used to express the love of that which in itself does not contain any love-worthiness.

    Theism: The Witness of Reason and Nature to an All-Wise and Beneficent Creator.

  • Beside the benevolence is a redness in tooth and claw that is sickening and alienating and it is somehow part of a horrible left-hand/right-hand situation.

    Bill Gates and the Greatest Tech Hack Ever - Anil Dash

  • Now this quality, which we call benevolence, has been the subject of commentaries by many teachers; but as these commentaries have been difficult of comprehension, they are too hard to enter the ears of women and children.

    Tales of Old Japan

  • Well, then, the quality which we call benevolence is, in fact, a perfection; and it is this perfection which Môshi spoke of as the heart of man.

    Tales of Old Japan

  • The answer is yes, I do believe in benevolence and malevolence as being a part of mans nature, I think where we differ, is the belief in the architect of nature and whether the formation of the natural world including the physique was a guided or a random process.

    Child Abuse Alert

  • Although one would hope that corporate benevolence is at play here it is also quite possible that having the import and export duty categories, and Mexican tax status changed as a result of the sale of an enriched product is a significant motivator here.

    a molcajete, a clay comal, and some cal.

  • He had thick reddish-yellow eyebrows at the base of a slightly receding forehead – wanting in benevolence, phrenologists would have said, and with the bump of self-esteem considerably developed.

    Lady Bridget in the Never-Never Land

  • It is necessary here to point out that whereas he has just placed the names complacency and desire under the generic head, benevolence, he afterwards uses the word benevolence, specifically, instead of desire, as if dividing benevolence into complacency, and benevolence proper.

    Treatise on the Love of God

  • The word benevolence, when applied to the character of the Quakers, includes also a tender feeling towards the brute creation.

    A Portraiture of Quakerism, Volume 3

  • The word benevolence, when mentioned as a trait in the character of the

    A Portraiture of Quakerism, Volume 3


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  • For a man cannot have publick spirit, who is void of private benevolence. (from Jubilate Agno by Christopher Smart)

    December 31, 2007