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[ahmz] /ɑmz/
noun, (used with a singular or plural verb)
money, food, or other donations given to the poor or needy; anything given as charity:
The hands of the beggars were outstretched for alms.
Origin of alms
before 1000; Middle English almes, almesse, Old English ælmesse (compare Old Saxon alamōsna, Old High German alamuosa, Dutch aalmoes; Old Spanish almosna) ≪ Late Latin eleēmosyna < Greek eleēmosýnē compassion, alms, derivative of éleos pity. See eleemosynary
Can be confused
alms, arms. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for alms
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She was not a conqueror of nations or a distributor of crowns, but a giver of alms.

  • He was in rags, and carried the usual beggar's wallet for food or alms.

    Welsh Fairy Tales William Elliott Griffis
  • You are not paying for it, my child; you are only contributing some alms to the Church.

    The Book of Khalid Ameen Rihani
  • Aye, aye, it's easy to steal the goose and give the giblets in alms.

    The Christian Hall Caine
  • Then they wished to know if alms should be given in his name?

    The Phantom World Augustin Calmet
  • A beggar importuned a lady for alms; she gave him a shilling.

  • I advise you to give him an alms once more, and you will have done with him.

    The Memoires of Casanova, Complete Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
  • A hundred masses, no less, had to be said that day; a distribution of alms had to be made.

    Romance Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer
  • What alms they receive is not in payment—gifts are accepted but not asked for.

    From Edinburgh to India & Burmah William G. Burn Murdoch
British Dictionary definitions for alms


plural noun
charitable donations of money or goods to the poor or needy
Word Origin
Old English ælmysse, from Late Latin eleēmosyna, from Greek eleēmosunē pity; see eleemosynary
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for alms

Old English ælmesse "alms, almsgiving," from Proto-Germanic *alemosna (cf. Old Saxon alamosna, Old High German alamuosan, Old Norse ölmusa), an early borrowing of Vulgar Latin *alemosyna (source of Old Spanish almosna, Old French almosne, Italian limosina), from Church Latin eleemosyna (Tertullian, 3c.), from Greek eleemosyne "pity, mercy," in Ecclesiastical Greek "charity, alms," from eleemon "compassionate," from eleos "pity, mercy," of unknown origin, perhaps imitative of cries for alms. Spelling perversion in Vulgar Latin is perhaps by influence of alimonia.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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