Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Benevolent

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is benevolent. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Benevolent means “kind and generous,” or less commonly, “organized for the purpose of doing good.”

// The event’s reception was courtesy of a benevolent anonymous donor.

// They belong to several benevolent societies and charitable organizations.


“I want to thank the benevolent stranger who found my keys and reunited me with them after seven months.” — Curt Vazquez, letter in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 16 May 2022

Did You Know?

One who is benevolent genuinely wishes other people well, a meaning reflected clearly in the word’s Latin roots: benevolent comes from bene, meaning “good,” and velle, meaning “to wish.” Other descendants of vellein English include volition, which refers to the power to make one’s own choices or decisions, and voluntary, as well as the rare velleity, meaning either “the lowest degree of volition” or “a slight wish or tendency.” A more familiar velle descendant stands directly opposed to benevolent: malevolent describes someone or something having or showing a desire to cause harm to another person.

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