from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Characterized by or suggestive of doing good.
  • adj. Of, concerned with, or organized for the benefit of charity.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Having a disposition to do good.
  • adj. Possessing or manifesting love for mankind.
  • adj. altruistic or charitable.
  • adj. generous.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Having a disposition to do good; possessing or manifesting love to mankind, and a desire to promote their prosperity and happiness; disposed to give to good objects; kind; charitable.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Having or manifesting a desire to do good; possessing or characterized by love toward mankind, and a desire to promote their prosperity and happiness; kind: as, a benevolent disposition or action.
  • Intended for the conferring of benefits, as distinguished from the making of profit: as, a benevolent enterprise; a benevolent institution.

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

  • adj. showing or motivated by sympathy and understanding and generosity
  • adj. generous in providing aid to others
  • adj. generous in assistance to the poor
  • adj. intending or showing kindness


Middle English, from Old French, from Latin benevolēns, benevolent- : bene, well; see deu-2 in Indo-European roots + volēns, present participle of velle, to wish; see wel-1 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Latin bene ("well") + volō. (Wiktionary)


  • It was only the other day I read in the report of the Consumers’ League in my own city that “a benevolent institution, ” when found giving out clothing to be made in tenement houses that were not licensed, and taken to task for it, asked the agents of the League to “show some way in which the law could be evaded”; but it is just as well for that “benevolent institution” that name and address were wanting, or it might find its funds running short unaccountably.

    VII. Pietro and the Jew

  • The term benevolent compassion puzzled Noam Cohen, executive editor of and a former copy editor at the New York Times.

    The Right Word in the Right Place at the Right Time

  • Well, I don't like the term benevolent dictator, and I don't think that it's my job or my role in the world of ideas to be the dictator of the future of all human knowledge compiled by the world.

    Jimmy Wales on the birth of Wikipedia

  • "Well, I am what I call a benevolent thief," replied Shih-Kung.

    Chinese Folk-Lore Tales

  • "This person did not have access to what we call our benevolent fund," he said Thursday. - Home Page

  • Like many who assume that I am one to whom the high court’s decisions about language can be appealed, he wrote to me: I was wondering what you made of Justice Scalia’s use of the term benevolent compassion.

    The Right Word in the Right Place at the Right Time

  • Sturgeon's Sylva Wycke, though loving and benevolent, is none-the-less the literary ancestor of Asimov's Solarians (in his Elijah Bailey Robot novels) or the Tessier-Ashpools in the Villa Straylight space station in William Gibson's Neuromancer who are so rich and so far above the rules and challenges of the rest of humanity that they have in effect become alien.

    MIND MELD: Memorable Short Stories to Add to Your Reading List (Part 2 of 2)

  • The era of Google as a trusted, "non-evil" startup whose actions are automatically assumed to be benevolent is over.

    Anil Dash

  • Most importantly, it aims to demonstrate that while times are tough and outcomes are uncertain, we can still bend the future in benevolent ways if we embrace change and steer its momentum in the right direction.


  • It relies on a transcendental, immutable, objective source of supreme, omniscient, long term benevolent source God.

    Surpassing Man


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