a. Having little or no detrimental effect; harmless: a benign chemical; benign indifference.
b. Of no danger to health; not malignant or disease-causing: a benign tumor.
2. Tending to exert a beneficial influence; favorable: a policy with benign consequences for the economy.
a. Gentle or kind: "a world regarded as the creative product of a benign God" (Nicholas Rescher).
b. Showing gentleness or kindness: a benign smile. See Synonyms at kind1.
[Middle English benigne, from Old French, from Latin benignus; see genə- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.