\ ˈä(l)mz How to pronounce alms (audio) \
plural alms

Definition of alms

1 : something (such as money or food) given freely to relieve the poor distributing alms to the needy
2 archaic : charity

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Other Words from alms

almsgiver \ ˈä(l)mz-​ˌgi-​vər How to pronounce alms (audio) \ noun
almsgiving \ ˈä(l)mz-​ˌgi-​viŋ How to pronounce alms (audio) \ noun

Examples of alms in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Fewer in-person rituals meant fewer people dropping alms in the collection basket, which priests depended on to pay bills and buy groceries. Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times, "With his mentors dying, a young Catholic priest tries to save his diocese from COVID-19," 14 Feb. 2021 Monday’s coup was staged before dawn, when the roosters had not yet crowed and the monks had not set forth, barefoot, for their morning alms. New York Times, "To Fight or Hide: Fear Grips Myanmar With Military Back in Charge," 6 Feb. 2021 Known for serving the poor, Saint Stephen is traditionally celebrated with charity and the distribution of alms. Erin Blakemore, History & Culture, "Why historians disagree about the origins of Boxing Day, the post-Christmas British holiday," 21 Dec. 2020 Every day, the monk walked down the mountain asking for alms. Clara Wang,, "For My Asian Mother, Feeding Me “Everything” Was An Act Of Love," 2 Dec. 2020 Another theory, according to, is that the name arose from alms boxes placed in churches for the collection of donations for those in need. Samantha Lawyer, Woman's Day, "The History of Boxing Day, Because Most People Don't Know What It Is," 13 Nov. 2020 The group charges vehicles transporting goods, demands that businesses pay a monthly fee and forcibly collects zakat, the annual alms that observant Muslims are expected to pay. Abdi Latif Dahir, New York Times, "Feared Shabab Exploit Somali Banking and Invest in Real Estate, U.N. Says," 11 Oct. 2020 In the early church, public confession was the norm, and penance involved public displays of reform, such as fasting, alms-giving and prayer. San Diego Union-Tribune, "‘I confess': should the ‘seal of the confessional’ protect pedophiles?," 4 Aug. 2019 Already foreigners outnumber locals at the traditional dawn alms-giving ceremony for the monks. Ewen Bell, National Geographic, "Discover why Laos is the world’s next great foodie destination," 10 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'alms.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of alms

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

History and Etymology for alms

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

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Time Traveler for alms

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for alms

Last Updated

25 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Alms.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for alms



English Language Learners Definition of alms

old-fashioned : money, clothes, food, and other things given to poor people


\ ˈämz How to pronounce alms (audio) , ˈälmz \
plural alms

Kids Definition of alms

: money given to help the poor : charity

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More from Merriam-Webster on alms

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for alms

Nglish: Translation of alms for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of alms for Arabic Speakers

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