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[buh-nev-uh-luh ns] /bəˈnɛv ə ləns/
desire to do good to others; goodwill; charitableness:
to be filled with benevolence toward one's fellow creatures.
an act of kindness; a charitable gift.
English History. a forced contribution to the sovereign.
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin benevolentia. See benevolent, -ence
Related forms
nonbenevolence, noun
superbenevolence, noun
unbenevolence, noun
1. malevolence. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for benevolence
  • He could be a demeaning boss, yet he was capable of great benevolence.
  • Their benevolence will not soon be forgotten.
  • For this act of generous benevolence I beg to tender to you and your .
  • In his first novel, Haynes offers engaging characters who tackle fundamental issues such as love, family and benevolence.
  • How could anything survive the magnitude of such intensity of being so near the sun and all of it's benevolence.
  • If a student is intentionally rude to me, I lose all sense of benevolence.
  • The season of benevolence is also a season of conflicts.
  • There was an entire absence of effusive benevolence in his manner; .
  • So much benevolence as a man hath, so much life hath he.
  • Such benevolence is not unique to humans but exists also in complex insect societies.
British Dictionary definitions for benevolence


inclination or tendency to help or do good to others; charity
an act of kindness
(in the Middle Ages) a forced loan or contribution exacted by English kings from their nobility and subjects
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for benevolence

c.1400, "disposition to do good," from Old French benivolence and directly from Latin benevolentia "good feeling, good will, kindness," from bene "well" (see bene-) + volantem (nominative volens) present participle of velle "to wish" (see will (v.)). In English history, this was the name given to forced extra-legal loans or contributions to the crown, first so called 1473 by Edward IV, who cynically "asked" it as a token of good will toward his rule.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for benevolence

in English history, any sum of money, disguised as a gift, extorted by various English kings, from Edward IV to James I, from their subjects without Parliament's consent. Forced loans had been taken earlier, but Edward IV discarded even the pretense of repayment, and the word benevolence was first used in 1473 to describe an extorted gift. Richard III's attempts to raise benevolences were opposed by Parliament, which in 1484 abolished them as "new and unlawful inventions." In spite of the law, Henry VII made widespread use of the practice, in 1495 persuading Parliament to make those who had promised gifts legally liable for unpaid arrears. Henry VIII demanded benevolences in 1528 and 1545, but the practice was not followed by his successors. It was revived by James I, who received large sums in 1614. Further attempts to exact gifts in 1615, 1620, and 1622 aroused considerable protest, and the practice was finally discontinued.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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