noun, plural char·i·ties.

Origin of charity

1125–75; Middle English charite < Old French < Latin cāritāt- (stem of cāritās), equivalent to cār(us) dear (akin to caress, cherish, Kama, whore) + -itāt- -ity
Related formschar·i·ty·less, adjectiveo·ver·char·i·ty, nounpro·char·i·ty, adjective

Synonyms for charity

Antonyms for charity




a female given name. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for charity

Contemporary Examples of charity

Historical Examples of charity

  • The rest of the estate went to the testator's widow for life, and then to charity.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Won't they dance, even for charity, except in their own houses?

  • He wished to do an act of charity as far as he could afford it.

    Rico and Wiseli

    Johanna Spyri

  • What could she invent, so to be before him in giving her charity?

    The Dream

    Emile Zola

  • But the worst of all in this matter was that Angelique soon despaired of her charity.

    The Dream

    Emile Zola

British Dictionary definitions for charity


noun plural -ties

  1. the giving of help, money, food, etc, to those in need
  2. (as modifier)a charity show
  1. an institution or organization set up to provide help, money, etc, to those in need
  2. (as modifier)charity funds
the help, money, etc, given to the needy; alms
a kindly and lenient attitude towards people
love of one's fellow men

Word Origin for charity

C13: from Old French charite, from Latin cāritās affection, love, from cārus dear
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

Word Origin and History for charity

mid-12c., "benevolence for the poor," from Old French charité "(Christian) charity, mercy, compassion; alms; charitable foundation" (12c., Old North French carité), from Latin caritatem (nominative caritas) "costliness, esteem, affection" (in Vulgate often used as translation of Greek agape "love" -- especially Christian love of fellow man -- perhaps to avoid the sexual suggestion of Latin amor), from carus "dear, valued," from PIE *karo-, from root *ka- "to like, desire" (see whore (n.)).

Vulgate also sometimes translated agape by Latin dilectio, noun of action from diligere "to esteem highly, to love" (see diligence).

Wyclif and the Rhemish version regularly rendered the Vulgate dilectio by 'love,' caritas by 'charity.' But the 16th c. Eng. versions from Tindale to 1611, while rendering agape sometimes 'love,' sometimes 'charity,' did not follow the dilectio and caritas of the Vulgate, but used 'love' more often (about 86 times), confining 'charity' to 26 passages in the Pauline and certain of the Catholic Epistles (not in I John), and the Apocalypse .... In the Revised Version 1881, 'love' has been substituted in all these instances, so that it now stands as the uniform rendering of agape. [OED]

Sense of "charitable foundation or institution" in English attested by 1690s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper