I have already known:

I know "beneficiary" means "a person that receives help or an advantage from something". And its synonyms are "heir", "inheritor", which are related to heritage.

But I want a word that can describe an object/thing with more general meaning (i.e., not related to heritage)

A sample sentence demonstrating how the word would be used:

"By resolving bugs of this software, its reliability is enhanced" = "The [word I want] of resolving bugs of the software is reliability"

  • 5
    Your own term “benefit” works well in that context.
    – Lawrence
    Jul 17, 2020 at 13:57
  • True enough, @Lawrence, but that presents reliability per se as an improvement. OP is looking for some word defined as "that thing which is improved", parallel with "beneficiary" as "that person who receives a benefit". Jul 17, 2020 at 16:24

1 Answer 1


The question is based on the incorrect assumption that beneficiary applies only to people or to legal inheritance as a result of death.

The following is one of the senses used by Merriam-Webster to define beneficiary:

1 : a person or thing that receives help or an advantage from something : one that benefits from something
    // The college was a beneficiary of the private grant.

Synonyms for this particular sense, as well as words with related grammatical functions, include the following words: recipient, receiver, advantaged, advantage, benefit, benefited, profited, bettered, aided.

As such, the example sentence (which I will paraphrase slightly) can still make use of beneficiary—as well as the related benefit, depending on the specific nuance being conveyed:

The beneficiary of resolving software bugs is reliability.
The benefit of resolving software bugs is reliability.

Other example sentences where beneficiary is used in the sense of a thing gaining an advantage follow (the emphasis is my own).

From Department of Energy: Implementation and Use of Other Transactions Authority Provided in the Energy Policy Act Of 2005 by Gene Aloise:

The beneficiary of contracts is the federal government.

From Licensing Royalty Rates by Gregory J. Battersby and Charles W. Grimes:

Active Video argues that Verizon is not an intended beneficiary of the TV Guide agreement, which was a joint development agreement between Active Videos predecessor and TV Guide to produce a specific product.

From Nanotechnology: Social Implications II edited by Mihail C. Roco and William Sims Bainbridge:

In any case, virtually all models of technological change predict that the main beneficiary of technological improvements is the most inelastic factor of production. In the modern world. where the supply of labor is inelastic relative to the supply of capital and where the supply of economically useful natural resources has increased as a result of the discovery of new sources of natural resources and/or development of substitute resources, this makes labor the main beneficiary of technological advance.

From A History of Cornwall by Morris Bishop:

In other states their university is the beneficiary of the state; here the state is the beneficiary of the university!

From In Praise of the Beloved Language by Joshua A. Fishman:

As the symbol of the conjoint attainment of literacy (cultural refinement and autonomy (cultural independence), the written language is commonly the ultimate intended goal and beneficiary of all modernity-oriented corpus planning initiatives. This is not to say that only the written language is the object or beneficiary of such planning, but were such a view to be advanced—and it has been—it would be an exaggeration whose point had much to be said for it.

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