Definition of beneficent in US English:



  • 1(of a person) generous or doing good.

    • ‘Clearly she presides over this field or crop, as she walks through it like a beneficent goddess.’
    • ‘His worship of Great Mother Nature as a beneficent spirit would have led him to Greenpeace, if not Earthfirst, and he would certainly have believed Lovelock's Gaia theory.’
    • ‘The poor in these paintings provided an opportunity for the prudent and beneficent wealthy to display their charity, such as in Beechey's Portrait of Sir Francis Ford's Children Giving a Coin to a Beggar Boy.’
    • ‘The Depression and World War II fostered in the parents of baby boomers an ethos of thrift and sacrifice, along with a belief in a beneficent federal government.’
    • ‘And it fundamentally it is the government telling you how to behave and if you behave in a certain way, then the government will be beneficent enough to hand you back some money.’
    • ‘His last years, lived by invitation in cottages in Sussex and Kent, fed and wined by beneficent admirers, provided a sort of rural coda of tranquillity.’
    • ‘Often these gifts are exchanged in special ceremonies where participants compete to appear the most beneficent, because status is accorded to those who give the most to others.’
    • ‘The president has battered this beneficent bureaucracy.’
    • ‘Sure they have characters who occasionally attempt to do the right thing, occasionally indulge whims to be decent or beneficent.’
    • ‘In reality, of course, governments are not omniscient and beneficent, and the last thing we want to do is give them control over the reporting of news and the expression of opinion.’
    • ‘England's successful wars against the French, its growing overseas empire, its social stability and its mercantile hegemony were all interpreted as the blessings of a beneficent providence on a Protestant people.’
    • ‘It is as though the beneficent god in which Spinoza did not believe had granted him a glimpse of the future which he is conveying to us.’
    • ‘And if God is not beneficent and all-powerful - well, what then of God's traditional identity, his essence?’
    • ‘In every roll of the dice, he sees a question posed to the unknown - and maybe beneficent - forces of the universe.’
    • ‘To Easterlin, the evidence suggests that the government can be pretty beneficent when it comes to adding years to life through public health programs.’
    • ‘It's five years to the next election, so they either will have forgotten how beneficent New Labour were or will have dropped dead.’
    • ‘But I don't think she's ever understood that the public wants her typecast as a beneficent, starched woman with at least two children in tow.’
    • ‘She was beneficent, and passed on a gift to each.’
    • ‘From the 1970s, beneficent citizens who resented the way in which a few outdoor advertising corporations were allowed to control public spaces began to answer back.’
    • ‘Maybe she had, but I'd forgotten, or at least not made the association between that beneficent patron of my childhood and the old man at the awards ceremony.’
    benevolent, charitable, altruistic, humane, humanitarian, neighbourly, public-spirited, philanthropic
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    1. 1.1 Resulting in good.
      ‘a beneficent democracy’
      • ‘He also regards changes in the EEC as part of these beneficent developments.’
      • ‘Blame the radically altered mindset that results when killing is redefined from a moral wrong into a beneficent and legal act.’
      • ‘Life on that island is marked by an uneasy tension, the juxtaposition of living surrounded by that which is at once beneficent and at the same time terribly exacting in its toll on human flesh.’
      • ‘So by all means let's be optimistic about the beneficent power of globalization - it's certainly warranted.’
      • ‘For the journalistic mainstream, privatization - whether in Western India or Northern California - was beneficent.’
      • ‘Instead, they will be populated by industrious persons traveling to these beneficent climates in search of the prosperity that has eluded them in their own country.’
      • ‘When read as a literary whole, Genesis 1-2 posits a world that is divinely beneficent and bountiful, in no need of human genius to improve or control it.’
      • ‘The focus of the literature is upon the beneficent impact of democracy on the relations between liberal states.’
      • ‘He did not prohibit smoking - only the advent of our new, democratic, accessible, devolved parliament has provoked this beneficent prospect.’
      • ‘But why was Blake so confident that excess would lead to a beneficent result rather than merely more excess?’
      • ‘Ethiopia is expecting a beneficent harvest, so that's a relief, or an absence of relief.’
      • ‘I say this not just because he is a son of the great city of Shanghai - although this town has been known to have a beneficent effect on people.’
      • ‘Consumer debt has been a remarkably beneficent force in moving people into the middle class in this country over the last two or three generations.’
      • ‘People should have a beneficent attitude to the use of tissues excised or removed as a part of their clinical care.’
      • ‘We now come on to the great Reform Bill of 1832, the first of those beneficent reforms which have made British liberty what it is and marked us off from the less fortunate nations.’
      • ‘The consequences of last month's election, all of them beneficent, continue to unfold.’
      • ‘Visitors to either venue cannot help but reflect on the pervasive, beneficent influence that this durable document has had on our personal and civic lives.’
      • ‘Liberal, beneficent, and traditional ideas have returned to their rightful place through the dispersal of the odious and despicable factions which sought to overawe the Councils.’


Early 17th century: from Latin beneficent- (stem of beneficentior, comparative of beneficus ‘favorable, generous’), from bene facere ‘do good (to)’.