plural alms
: something (such as money or food) given freely to relieve the poor
distributing alms to the needy
archaic : charity
almsgiver noun
almsgiving noun

Examples of alms in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Those celebrating also pay zakat al-fitr, an alms-tax that goes towards those in need. Juliana Labianca, Good Housekeeping, 26 Jan. 2023 In 2007, amid rising fuel prices and yet another economic crisis, Buddhist monks led mass protests in Yangon and other cities, overturning their alms bowls to signal disenchantment with the military junta. Hannah Beech,, 29 July 2022 Not that the alms offered up by President Biden and European leaders will do much good. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 31 Oct. 2022 Her public life was defined by these duties, some seemingly trivial, such as handing out symbolic alms, others mantled with pomp and pageantry — the opening of Parliament or the hosting of a state dinner. Adrian Higgins, Washington Post, 8 Sep. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'alms.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English almesse, almes, from Old English ælmesse, ælmes, from Late Latin eleemosyna alms, from Greek eleēmosynē pity, alms, from eleēmōn merciful, from eleos pity

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of alms was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near alms

Cite this Entry

“Alms.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


ˈämz How to pronounce alms (audio)
plural alms
: something and especially money given to help the poor : charity
almsgiver noun
almsgiving noun

More from Merriam-Webster on alms

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!