al·​tru·​is·​tic ˌal-trü-ˈi-stik How to pronounce altruistic (audio)
: relating to or given to altruism:
: having or showing an unselfish concern for the welfare of others
altruistic acts/motives
a generous and altruistic person
Yet many of the most important institutions in our society—the fine arts, NGOs, humanitarian charities—depend on the generosity of wealthy citizens with altruistic impulses.Jonathan Kay
: relating to or being behavior by an animal that is not beneficial to or may be harmful to the animal itself but that benefits others of its species
The evolutionary theory of kin selection requires that social animals recognize their relatives so that altruistic behavior can be displayed preferentially toward kin.Science
altruistically adverb
… one of the first researchers to begin to solve the paradox of how the evolutionary struggle to survive and reproduce could give rise to creatures that never reproduce and spend their lives altruistically helping others to survive. Carol Kaesuk Yoon

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web If Dave believes his selfishness and rap tourism is warranted for some greater good, IRL Burd never claims to be so altruistic. Shamira Ibrahim, Vulture, 11 May 2023 Shooting the final scenes, Brosnan was in full altruistic mode. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, 23 Oct. 2022 In some cases, the brands have even launched limited-edition products developed specifically for the altruistic theme of this month, which makes the incentive to support them all the greater. Angela Trakoshis And Sarah Han, Allure, 9 Oct. 2022 In recent weeks, Gonzales' attorneys repeatedly have asked the state criminal justice department to reconsider its position on altruistic donations, Posel and Schonemann's statement said. Dakin Andone, CNN, 11 July 2022 The collaboration was an example of altruistic behavior rarely observed in birds. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, 25 Feb. 2022 Companies use bug bounty programs to enlist altruistic hackers to spot security flaws in their products and IT systems. Jonathan Vanian, Fortune, 18 Feb. 2022 Since Google has been displaying pay-to-play lists at the top of organic search results, some believe their motives aren’t altruistic. Scott Miraglia, Forbes, 27 Dec. 2021 At times, the altruistic movement runs up against thorny realities. Washington Post, 10 Dec. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'altruistic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1853, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of altruistic was in 1853

Dictionary Entries Near altruistic

Cite this Entry

“Altruistic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2023.

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