al·​tru·​ist | \ ˈal-trü-ist How to pronounce altruist (audio) \

Definition of altruist

: one that adheres to or practices altruism: such as
a : an unselfish person whose actions show concern for the welfare of others Kim signed up with Compass, a District-based group that serves the growing number of altruists who donate not only time and money to charity and the arts but also their professional expertise.— Robert McCartney
b : an animal that behaves in a way which is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but which benefits the survival of others of its species Reciprocal altruism refers to the exchange of beneficial acts between individuals, in which the benefits to the recipient exceed the cost to the altruist. … Although the potential for reciprocal altruism exists in many animal societies, most interactions occur between closely related individuals …— Robert M. Seyfarth et al.

Examples of altruist in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web As the park’s lamps clicked on and night arrived, so, too, did the stream of altruists. John Woodrow Cox, Washington Post, "A homeless man longs to see his daughter on Christmas. Can he find $27 for a bus ticket?," 24 Dec. 2019 The great writers Anton Chekhov and Mikhail Bulgakov praised the Russian doctor as a humanist, an altruist and an enlightener. Maria Danilova, Harper's magazine, "Alternative Medicine," 28 Aug. 2019 Effective altruists congregate the world over with nearly 400 global chapters, often connected to high-ranking universities or tech centers. Natasha Frost, Quartz, "Effective Altruism is trying to save the world from the robot apocalypse," 20 July 2019 Bold-face altruists such as Margaret Williams were among those indulging at the admittedly addictive cookie spread. Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle, "Holocaust Museum Houston surprises Sue Smith, remembers late wildcatter Lester Smith at "First Look"," 17 June 2019 The book is not a kind of Will MacAskill/Peter Singer/effective altruist moral investigation of how to do charitable giving better, or what our individual obligations to donate might be. Dylan Matthews, Vox, "The case against billionaire philanthropy," 17 Dec. 2018 Inevitably, even effective altruists have to accept a degree of uncertainty about the impact of their donation. The Economist, "Can “effective altruism” maximise the bang for each charitable buck?," 2 June 2018 Effective altruists fret that their movement might, in fact, have very limited appeal. The Economist, "Can “effective altruism” maximise the bang for each charitable buck?," 2 June 2018 Altruism is behavior that benefits someone other than the altruist. Lynn Johnson, National Geographic, "How Fear Makes You Do Good Or Evil," 3 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'altruist.' 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 altruist

1868, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of altruist was in 1868

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Cite this Entry

“Altruist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2021.

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