Word of the Week: Benign

illustration of scientist looking into microscope - word of the week

Alex Dos Diaz / Verywell

Each week, Verywell explains a term from health, medicine, science, or technology.


How to say itBenign (beh-nine)

What it means: It describes something that is not harmful. In medicine, the term benign is often specifically used to describe something (like lump or lesion) that is not cancerous.

Where it comes from: From the Latin word bene, which means well (it's also the root for words like "beneficial").

An older white woman talking with her doctor, a woman of color, about test results.

Tom Werner/Getty

Where you might see or hear it: If you go to your doctor because you are concerned about a lump, bump, or spot on your body, they will want to look at it and might even take a sample to test it. You would be relieved to hear that it is benign because it means that while it might not be something that everyone has (or it might even be somewhat unexpected or unusual) it does not mean that there is anything wrong.

Other procedures or tests, like an imaging scan or blood test, can also reveal something that is considered benign.

When you might want to use it: When your loved ones ask you about your test results, you might tell them that the lump you were worried about was benign (just make sure that you explain what it means!)

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