I was a little mystified at how benignly he responded to my questions about his business activities.
early 14c., from Old French benigne (12c., "kind, benign, merciful, gracious;" Modern French bénin, fem. bénigne), from Latin benignus "kindly, kindhearted, friendly, generous," literally "well born," from bene "well" (see bene-) + gignere "to bear, beget," from genus "birth" (see genus). For similar sense evolution, cf. gentle, kind (adj.), generous. Related: Benignly.
benign be·nign (bĭ-nīn')
Of no danger to health, especially relating to a tumorous growth; not malignant.
Not life-threatening or severe, and likely to respond to treatment, as a tumor that is not malignant. Compare malignant.