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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.
Origin of benevolence
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
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • All this created an enormous sum for the secours, which was the real "relief," as benevolence.

    Herbert Hoover Vernon Kellogg
  • His desire to please evidently arose not from vanity but benevolence.

  • But love is a complacency, and benevolence is but its effect or antecedent.

  • The parson had bent forward, and was eyeing her curiously, yet with benevolence.

    Tiverton Tales Alice Brown
  • Their love delighted him, and he returned it with the fondness of a parent and the benevolence of a pastor.

    Alice, or The Mysteries, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • There are three subjective principles of morals,—sympathy, benevolence, self-love.

    Philebus Plato
  • That we must attribute to cats the estimable virtue of benevolence, Mrs F— gives me two anecdotes to prove.

    Stories of Animal Sagacity W.H.G. Kingston
  • That is their doctrine, and they, of course, call it benevolence.

    Ireland as It Is Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)
  • He was sheriff of Paris, 1770, and employed his leisure in objects of benevolence, till the revolution overwhelmed him.

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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