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 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 An effective altruist looks to data to decide where and when to donate to a cause, basing the decision on impersonal goals like saving the most lives, or creating the most income, per dollar donated. Steven Ehrlich, Forbes, 6 Oct. 2021 One adventurer’s selfish act more than 50 years ago might not bear emphasizing—except that Tompkins later became a famous altruist who renounced the business world and moved to a cabin in Patagonia. Michael O’donnell, The Atlantic, 5 Aug. 2021 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.

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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Last Updated

1 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Altruist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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