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Benet, Bennet[t] and Ben'et are all abbreviated forms of the name Benedict, which means 'the blessed [one]' in Latin (benedictus). This was the usual form of the name in Middle English, when it was used as a name for both women and men. It is now normally a male name - though not common - since the Early Modern period. It is the vernacular English representation of the name of Saint Benedict.

  • It is the origin of the common English patronymic surname borne by, among others, the family of the heroine in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennett. Other surnames derived from it include Benson, Benedick, Benedickson and Bendix.
  • The central male character in Shakespeare's comedy Much Ado about Nothing is called Benedick, yet another form of the name.
  • An American poet called Stephen Vincent Benét, whose surname is pronounced 'be-NAY' (IPA: /bə ˈneɪ/), claimed Minorcan (that is, Mediterranean) ancestry, which may explain the unusual form of his surname).
  • The Polish-born Benoit (he was first named Benoît in Polish) B. Mandelbrot (1924-2010) bears, as his forename, yet another form of the same name. It is pronounced 'ben-wa', IPA: /ben wɑ/.
Benoît Mandelbrot is the man who developed fractal geometry, and gave his name to the 'Mandelbrot set' (" The set of all complex numbers c for which the Julia set of the mapping z → z2 + c is connected, where z is a complex variable; the set of all complex numbers c such that under repeated application of the mapping z → z2 + c any complex number z remains within a bounded region of the complex plane" (OED).
Etymological note: The forms Benet, Bennet and Ben'et are all corruptions of the Latin. According to Bloch (1950), benét and benoit are other forms of bénit, the adjectival form of the past participle béni of the French verb bénir, 'to bless'. They are archaic since the 17th century. Benoît is still current, in the sense of sot ('idiot') or niais ('simpleton'). It owes this meaning to a 'pleasant allusion' to St Matthew's Gospel, V 3: "blessed are the poor in spirit". (In this, it is akin to expressions in several languages claiming the mentally afflicted are special to God: Arabic has the expression "touched by Allah" to refer to the clearly mentally ill.)
Benito (the forename of the Italian dictator Mussolini) and Benedetto are forms of the name in the Romance languages; Bent, Bend and Bengt in Germanic languages. (See Benito - bonito for a typographical error that has been seen.)