boon/benefit of publicly discussing local issues

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Senior Member
Mandarin / the Shanghai Dialect

“Town governments, which conducted much important business, were even more inclusive. There all male property holders, and in some cases other residents as well, enjoyed the priceless boon of publicly discussing local issues, often with much heat, and of voting on them by a majority-rule show of hands.”

From “The American Pageant” by Thomas A. Bailey

boon1 /bun/ n. [countable; usually singular]

  1. something to be thankful for;
    a blessing;
    benefit:The lower fares are a boon to senior citizens.
  1. something that is asked for;
    a favor.
boon - Dictionary of English

What is the difference between “boon” and “benefit”? Can I use “benefit” here instead without losing any nuance?
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You could use it without there being any significant difference in meaning (especially since it’s modified by the word “priceless”).

    A benefit is anything that’s good for you/of advantage to you.

    A boon can be seen as a benefit or advantage that has the nuance of being “extra”, given as a gift or reward (like a bonus). But it’s used much less.
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