al·​tru·​ist ˈal-trü-ist How to pronounce altruist (audio)
: one that adheres to or practices altruism: such as
: 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
: 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.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Even in times of crisis, Bankman-Fried is ever the effective altruist. Prem Thakker, The New Republic, 1 Dec. 2022 The four housemates sat on the board of the FTX Future Fund, an effective altruist group that Mr. Bankman-Fried financed with his crypto fortune. Cade Metz, New York Times, 23 Nov. 2022 The billionaire crypto founder is a longtime effective altruist, a philosophy that advocates for maximizing the amount of good generated when considering donations to charity. Fortune, 1 June 2022 Not that the rest of us are out of luck, but the altruistic urge among bystanders increases the more the victim exhibits these traits and the more the would-be altruist perceives that aid could be effective. David P. Barash, WSJ, 6 May 2022 All the world also loves an altruist, someone who gives time, money or assistance to another. David P. Barash, WSJ, 6 May 2022 Her altruistic response model, by contrast, applies to quick mental processing and immediate reactions (e.g., Mr. Autrey), the kind of deeds later described by the often-heroic altruist as automatic rather than thought out. David P. Barash, WSJ, 6 May 2022 But only a little of it will wind up staying in Bankman-Fried’s pockets, as the effective altruist has pledged to keep only 1% of his earnings (or at the minimum $100,000 a year) and give away the rest. Declan Harty, Fortune, 7 Apr. 2022 This is how an effective altruist might think about the war in Ukraine: What is its scale? Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic, 1 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

First Known Use

1868, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of altruist was in 1868

Dictionary Entries Near altruist

Cite this Entry

“Altruist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2022.

More from Merriam-Webster on altruist

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

Odd Habits and Quirks

  • image1926873504
  • Which of the following best describes an easily irritated person?
Spell It

Hear a word and type it out. How many can you get right?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.