Definitions

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

  • adj. Favorable; beneficial.
  • adj. Kind and gracious.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Kind; gracious; favorable.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Kind; gracious; favorable.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Kind; gracious; favorable: as, a benignant sovereign.
  • Exerting a good, kindly, or softening influence; salutary; beneficial: as, the benignant influences of Christianity on the mind.
  • In medicine, not malignant; not dangerous: said of diseases.

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

  • adj. characterized by kindness and warm courtesy especially of a king to his subjects
  • adj. pleasant and beneficial in nature or influence

Etymologies

From benign, on the model of malignant. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Some persons may still recall the benignant appearance of the late venerable Sir Archibald Macdonald, Lord Chief Baron of the Court of

    Memoirs of the Jacobites of 1715 and 1745 Volume III.

  • Whether it were fibrous or albuminous, "benignant" or "malignant," he was not able in his first diagnosis to determine.

    Danger

  • She was on the opposite side of the fountain, and stood gazing on him with calmness, and with a kind of benignant curiosity: The garden, the kiosk, the falling waters, recalled the past, which flashed over his mind almost at the moment when he beheld the beautiful apparition.

    Tancred Or, The New Crusade

  • Finally if you do not die, your loving wife — who has not slept during the whole three weeks of your illness (a fact of which she will constantly remind you) — will fall ill in her turn, waste away, suffer much, and become even more incapable of any useful pursuit than she was before; while by the time that you have regained your normal state of health she will express to you her self-sacrificing affection only by shedding around you a kind of benignant dullness which involuntarily communicates itself both to yourself and to every one else in your vicinity.

    Youth

  • Finally if you do not die, your loving wife -- who has not slept during the whole three weeks of your illness (a fact of which she will constantly remind you) -- will fall ill in her turn, waste away, suffer much, and become even more incapable of any useful pursuit than she was before; while by the time that you have regained your normal state of health she will express to you her self-sacrificing affection only by shedding around you a kind of benignant dullness which involuntarily communicates itself both to yourself and to every one else in your vicinity.

    Youth

  • Not alone were they nimble because of the westing, but a benignant sun was shining down and limbering their stiff bodies.

    MAKE WESTING

  • At last Judge Blount looked across the table with benignant and fatherly pity.

    Chapter 37

  • She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.

    President Can't Cut Constellation Without Congressional Approval | Universe Today

  • When he tried to draw him out on questions of governmental authority, Young “merely looked around at me . . . as I have seen a benignant old cat look around to see which kitten was meddling with her tail.”

    LIGHTING OUT FOR THE TERRITORY

  • The burden of its supplication was that an ever -- merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory -

    Mark Twain's War Prayer

Comments

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  • "Synonyms Benignant, Gracious, Benign, Kind, Good-natured. Benignant and gracious are generally applied to superiors, and imply especially a certain manner of kindness or favor. Benignant is more tender or gentle; gracious is more civil or condescending; both are winning. Benign has largely given up to benignant the associations with activity or manner, and is applied especially to looks and influences: as, a benign smile. Kind often implies some superiority of circumstances on the part of the person acting: thus, we do not speak of a servant as being kind to his master, unless the latter is ill or otherwise made dependent on his servant for aid. A good-natured person is one who is not only willing to oblige, but will put up with a good deal of annoyance. Kind implies discrimination in benevolence; good-natured does not, but often implies a weakness for indiscriminate giving to those who solicit help or favors."

    --Cent. Dict.

    I note that the word "nice" is not mentioned.

    August 20, 2012