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generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless:
to devote one’s life to charity.
something given to a person or persons in need; alms:
She asked for work, not charity.
a charitable act or work.
a charitable fund, foundation, or institution:
He left his estate to a charity.
benevolent feeling, especially toward those in need or in disfavor:
She looked so poor that we fed her out of charity.
leniency in judging others; forbearance:
She was inclined to view our selfish behavior with charity.
Christian love; agape.
a female given name.
noun (pl) -ties

the giving of help, money, food, etc, to those in need
(as modifier): a charity show

an institution or organization set up to provide help, money, etc, to those in need
(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

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.

Related Terms

cold as hell
A functional language based purely on category theory by Cockett, Spencer, and Fukushima, 1990-1991.
A version for Sun-4 is available from Tom Fukushima fukushim@ucalgary.ca.
[“About Charity”, J.R.B. Cockett, U. Calgary, Canada, et al].

(1 Cor. 13), the rendering in the Authorized Version of the word which properly denotes love, and is frequently so rendered (always so in the Revised Version). It is spoken of as the greatest of the three Christian graces (1 Cor. 12:31-13:13).


Read Also:

  • Charity begins at home

    Be generous to your family before helping others. For example, She spends hours and hours on volunteer work and neglects the children, forgetting that charity begins at home. This proverb was first recorded in English, in slightly different form, in John Wycliffe’s Of Prelates (c. 1380); “Charity should begin at himself.”

  • Charity commissioners

    plural noun (in Britain) members of a commission constituted to keep a register of charities and control charitable trusts

  • Charity girl

    noun phrase A sexually promiscuous young woman (1940s+)

  • Charity line

    noun in basketball, the free-throw line; also called charity stripe Examples A lot of players have a dramatic way of approaching the charity line. Word Origin 1923 Usage Note slang noun phrase The free-throw line: The Hawks knew the game would be decided at the charity stripe (1930s+ Basketball)

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