Knighted vs benighted

Photo of author


Knighted and benighted are two words that seem as if they should be related, but they are not. We will examine the definitions of knighted and benighted, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Knighted means to be awarded the title of knight. A knight is someone who has been of service to a monarch or other political leader. A man who attains such a rank may use the title “Sir” before his name. Derived from the Old English word cniht, the k sound in knight has long gone silent. Related words are knights, knighted, knighting, knighthood.

Benighted describes someone who lives in a state of moral darkness, ignorance or cultural backwardness. Note the spelling of the root word, night, meaning the time between sunset and sunrise. The word benighted was first used in the 1550s to mean overtaken by darkness. The word benighted acquired its current meaning in the mid-1600s.


Bee Gee Barry Gibb was knighted at Buckingham Palace Tuesday, and says he hopes his late brothers Robin and Maurice are proud of him. (USA Today)

Many confidently proclaimed that the 47-year-old should be knighted for his recent achievements, with a petition championing that cause earlier this week regardless of the result against Croatia.  (The Daily Mail)

“The reason America can never truly come together in understanding racial preferences is not benighted racism rearing its head as always,” he goes on. (The Minot Daily News)

In the long term, they certainly won’t agree to serve under the jackboot of religious coercion, nor to suffer abuse from kashrut supervisors or the benighted, misogynist humiliations of the students of the premilitary academy in Eli and similar institutions. (Haaretz)