mid-15c., "wishing to do good, well-disposed, kindly," from Old French benivolent and directly from Latin benevolentem (nominative benevolens) "wishing (someone) well, benevolent," related to benevolentia "good feeling," from bene "well" (see bene-) + volentem (nominative volens) present participle of velle "to wish" (see will (v.)). Related: Benevolently.
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The Germanic words are from PIE root *wel- (2) "to wish, will" (source also of Sanskrit vrnoti "chooses, prefers," varyah "to be chosen, eligible, excellent," varanam "choosing;" Avestan verenav- "to wish, will, choose;" Greek elpis "hope;" Latin volo, velle "to wish, will, desire;" Old Church Slavonic voljo, voliti "to will," veljo, veleti "to command;" Lithuanian velyti "to wish, favor," pa-velmi "I will," viliuos "I hope;" Welsh gwell "better").
Compare also Old English wel "well," literally "according to one's wish;" wela "well-being, riches." The use as a future auxiliary was already developing in Old English. The implication of intention or volition distinguishes it from shall, which expresses or implies obligation or necessity. Contracted forms, especially after pronouns, began to appear 16c., as in sheele for "she will." In early use often -ile to preserve pronunciation. The form with an apostrophe ('ll) is from 17c.
It forms all or part of: beatific; beatify; beatitude; Beatrice; beau; beauty; Bella; belle; beldam; belladonna; belvedere; bene-; benedict; Benedictine; benediction; benefactor; beneficiary; benefice; beneficence; benefit; benevolent; benign; bonanza; bonbon; bonhomie; bonito; bonjour; bonny; bonus; boon (adj.); bounty; debonair; embellish.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Latin bene (adv.) "well, in the right way, honorably, properly," bonus "good," bellus "handsome, fine, pretty," and possibly beatus "blessed," beare "to make blessed."
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a benevolent society