Circa 1400, original sense “good will, disposition to do good”, Old French benivolence from Latin benevolentia (also directly from Latin), literally “good will”, from bene (“well, good”) + volentia, form of volēns, form of volō (“I wish”), components cognate to English benefit and voluntary, more distantly will (via Proto-Indo-European).
- (uncountable) Disposition to do good.
- (uncountable) Charitable kindness.
- (countable) An altruistic gift or act.
- (Britain, historical) A kind of forced loan or contribution levied by kings without legal authority, first so called under Edward IV in 1473.