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    #1

    beneficient vs benevolent

    Could someone tell me the difference between beneficient and benevolent.

    They appear to be synonymous.

    Thanks in advance.

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: beneficient vs benevolent

    beneficent - doing good (You got the extra I from "beneficial")
    benevolent - having good intentions

    So a benevolent person may do no good at all.

    b

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    #3

    Re: beneficient vs benevolent

    I want to add several nice words.

    Beneficiary - Except for Benedict Arnold, who did not treat his country well, all other words beginning with bene speak only of good, for that is what this prefix (a letter or letters attached at the beginning of a word) means. Here is a list of such "good" words: benefactor, beneficent, beneficial, benefit, benevolent, benign. In your reading, have you come across the letters N.B. in front of certain passages? The author is telling you to "note it well" (nota bene).

    Beneficiary: a person or group who receives money, advantages, etc. as a result of something else.
    Benefactor: someone who gives money to help an organization, society or person.
    Beneficent: helping people and doing good acts.
    Beneficial: helpful, useful or good.
    Benefit: a helpful or good effect, or something intended to help.
    Benevolent: kind and helpful.
    Benign: pleasant and kind.

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    #4

    Re: beneficient vs benevolent

    And why stop at the prefix? Think of all the words to do with wanting [Latin volo =I want] - benevolent, malevolent, voluntary, volition. Shakespeare used this when he named the anti-hero of Twelfth Night: how could a character called 'Malvolio' be anything but bad? (Or was he?... Perhaps he was 'More sinned against than sinning'?...)

    b

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    #5

    Re: beneficient vs benevolent

    Hi BobK

    The meaning of 'benevolent' found in the dictionaries I referred give the meaning of the word as 'kind and helpful'. I am indeed confused by why it should have a negative connotation.

    Thanks in advance.

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    #6

    Re: beneficient vs benevolent

    Quote Originally Posted by Tan Elaine View Post
    Hi BobK

    The meaning of 'benevolent' found in the dictionaries I referred give the meaning of the word as 'kind and helpful'. I am indeed confused by why it should have a negative connotation.

    Thanks in advance.
    It doesn't! The character I mentioned was 'Malvolio'. (I think there's a character in another Shakespeare play called 'Benvolio', but it's a long time since I studied Shakespeare - Google would know!)

    b

    PS It was Benvolio, in Romeo and Juliet. (The irony of the name is that he meant well, but he suggested that Romeo should go to party where he met Juliet...)
    Last edited by BobK; 02-Aug-2010 at 16:36. Reason: Added PS

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    #7

    Re: beneficient vs benevolent

    PS it was silly of me not to think... For speakers of languages derived from Latin, the 'Mal-/Ben-' contrast is obvious.

    b

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