The Meaning of Benign: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of benign? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word benign, including its definition, usage, word origin, and more!

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What does the word benign mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary, the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language and Collins English Dictionary, the word benign is an adjective that can refer to a mild thing that does not threaten life or heath – esp. Of a type of tumour that is not cancerous. This word can also describe someone or something that is harmless, or a gentle disposition, or favorable and wholesome. The word benign is two syllables – be-nign, and the pronunciation of benign is bi-ˈnīn.

Many different languages also contain words that mean benign. You may notice that many of these translations of benign look and sound similar to the word benign. These are called cognates, which are often formed when two words have the same root or language of origin. This list of translations of the word benign is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Armenian: բարորակ‎
  •  Bulgarian: доброка́чествен‎
  •  Czech: nezhoubný‎ (masc.), benigní‎
  •  Finnish: hyvänlaatuinen‎
  •  French: bénin‎
  •  Georgian: კეთილთვისებიანი‎
  •  German: gutartig‎
  •  Greek: καλοήθης‎ (masc.) (f)
  •  Hungarian: jóindulatú‎
  •  Italian: benigno‎
  •  Maori: ngū‎
  •  Bokmål: godartet‎
  •  Nynorsk: godarta‎
  •  Persian: خوش‌خیم‎ (xoš-xim)
  •  Polish: łagodny‎, nieszkodliwy‎
  •  Portuguese: benigno‎
  •  Romanian: benign‎ (med.)
  •  Russian: доброка́чественный‎ (of good quality)
  •  Spanish: benigno‎
  •  Swedish: godartad‎, benign‎

What are examples of benign tumors?

According to Healthline, there are numerous different types of benign tumors, listed below. These are noncancerous growths that can occur on any part of the body. Unlike cancerous tumors, these cannot metastasize, or spread to other parts of the body. The causes of benign tumors are unknown, but develop when the cells of the body divide and grow at an excessive rate. While the body can usually balance cell growth and division, sometimes when old or damaged cells die they remain and form a tumor rather than being replaced with new, healthy cells. While benign tumors are not cancerous, they should still be monitored carefully. They can cause problems like pelvic pain or abnormal bleeding with uterine fibroids, and some could restrict a blood vessel or cause pain by pressing on a nerve. To determine if they are benign or malignant tumors, a pathologist will do a biopsy where they take some of the tumor and put it under a microscope, where they can compare it with normal tissue to see if there are any cancer cells.

  •  Lipomas are a type of benign tumor that grow from fat cells. These are the most common type of benign tumor. These are usually found on the arms, back and neck, are soft and round, and move slightly under the skin.
  •  Adenomas are tumors that form in the thin layer of tissue that is responsible for covering glands, organs, and other internal structures. These could include colon polyps or liver growths in the connective tissue. 
  •  Myomas are benign tumors that grow from muscle, or in the walls of blood vessels. They can also grow on smooth muscle in the uterus or stomach.
  •  Nevi are moles! These grow on the skin and are extremely common. If you notice a mole changing, see a dermatologist. You should get your moles checked yearly.
  •  Fibroids are also called fibromas and can grow in the fibrous tissue of organs. They are most often found in the uterus, and are called uterine fibroids.
  •  Hemangiomas are type of benign tumor that are caused by a buildup of blood vessel cells in the skin or internal organs.

What is the origin of the word benign?

According to Etymonline, the word benign has been used since early c14 and comes from the Old French benigne, a c12 word that created the Modern French bénin, fem. bénigne. This comes from the Latin benignus meaning friendly or generous – it literally means “well born,” from the root bene meaning well and the root gignere meaning to bear or beget. This comes from the Latin genus meaning birth, from the Proto-Indo-European roots gene and genə. One can add the suffixes ly, ity, and ant to form the related words benignly (adv.), genignant (adj.) and benignity (n.)

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word benign?

There are numerous different words that a person can use in place of the word benign. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same definition as another word or phrase. Learning synonyms is a great way to increase the size of your English language vocabulary as well as a way to avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word benign is provided by Thesaurus.

  •  merciful
  •  limited
  •  complaisant
  •  liberal
  •  good
  •  goodhearted
  •  superficial
  •  favorable
  •  slight
  •  curable
  •  harmless
  •  mild
  •  gracious
  •  benevolent
  •  kindly
  •  genial
  •  remediable
  •  amiable
  •  early stage
  •  generous
  •  benignant
  •  gentle
  •  kind
  •  friendly
  •  obliging
  •  sympathetic
  •  congenial
  •  beneficent

There are also numerous different words that mean the opposite of the word benign. These opposite words are called antonyms, which are another quick and easy way to expand your English vocabulary. This list of antonyms is also provided by Thesaurus.

  •  mischievous
  •  mean
  •  low
  •  evil-minded
  •  poisonous
  •  awful
  •  baleful
  •  vengeful
  •  cussed
  •  ill-disposed
  •  malicious
  •  despiteful
  •  malevolent
  •  vicious
  •  jealous
  •  ornery
  •  deleterious
  •  nasty
  •  bad-natured
  •  spiteful
  •  virulent
  •  hateful
  •  bitter
  •  green
  •  uncool
  •  catty
  •  venomous
  •  resentful
  •  rancorous
  •  green-eyed
  •  pernicious
  •  detrimental
  •  envious
  •  malignant
  •  malign
  •  wicked
  •  beastly
  •  noxious
  •  petty
  •  injurious
  •  gross
  •  evil

Overall, the word benign means harness or benevolent. This is most commonly used to describe a type of tumor that is not cancerous, but could also describe someone’s benign intentions, benign environment, or even the benign sky. A benign tumour can be left alone in some cases, but require surgery in others.


  1. benign | Origin and meaning of benign | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  2. BENIGN Synonyms: 103 Synonyms & Antonyms for BENIGN | Thesaurus 
  3. MALICIOUS Synonyms: 61 Synonyms & Antonyms for MALICIOUS | Thesaurus 
  4. benign: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  5. Benign | Definition of Benign | Merriam-Webster 
  6. Benign Tumors: Causes, Symptoms & Diagnosis | Healthline