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

Examples of alms in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web 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 When a Catholic church in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, was heavily damaged during Hurricane Maria in 2017, members of a Park Ridge parish were encouraged to help fund its rebuilding as part of their Lenten alms-giving. Jennifer Johnson,, "Park Ridge church representatives see fruits of charitable giving in Puerto Rico," 18 June 2019 By his lights gestures and ceremonies can have value in disciplining oneself, but charity toward one’s neighbor, of which giving of alms is only one expression, is free and Christian when it is done without thought for one’s own benefit. Marilynne Robinson, New Republic, "The Luther Legend," 12 Dec. 2017 What in Europe had been a discreet offering with alms boxes kept at the back of the church (alms for the poor) became a central ritual activity in America. James Hudnut-beumler, Washington Post, "Why cash remains sacred in American churches," 6 July 2017 Offering the annual charity of the alms (2.5% of all savings) Kurt Snibbe, Orange County Register, "A look at the world’s new tool to combat extremism," 26 May 2017

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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Cite this Entry

“Alms.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for alms


How to pronounce alms (audio)

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with alms

Spanish Central: Translation of alms

Nglish: Translation of alms for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of alms for Arabic Speakers

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