char·i·ty | \ˈcher-ə-tē, ˈcha-rə-\
plural charities

Definition of charity 

1a : generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering also : aid given to those in need received charity from the neighbors

b : an institution engaged in relief of the poor raised funds for several charities

c : public provision for the relief of the needy too proud to accept charity

2 : benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity The holidays are a time for charity and goodwill.

3a : a gift for public benevolent purposes

b : an institution (such as a hospital) founded by such a gift

4 : lenient judgment of others The critic was liked for his charity and moderation.

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Choose the Right Synonym for charity

mercy, charity, clemency, grace, leniency mean a disposition to show kindness or compassion. mercy implies compassion that forbears punishing even when justice demands it. threw himself on the mercy of the court charity stresses benevolence and goodwill shown in broad understanding and tolerance of others. show a little charity for the less fortunate clemency implies a mild or merciful disposition in one having the power or duty of punishing. the judge refused to show clemency grace implies a benign attitude and a willingness to grant favors or make concessions. by the grace of God leniency implies lack of severity in punishing. criticized the courts for excessive leniency

Examples of charity in a Sentence

The holidays are a time for charity and good will. She refused to accept charity. The dinner was held to raise funds for several charities. She runs a local charity that gives books to children. All the money will go to charity.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Customers also get to choose to donate 10 percent of sales to one of the following charities: The National Park Foundation, International Children Arts Foundation, or Off the Mat Into the World Yoga. Leah Prinzivalli, SELF, "You Can Now Buy Workout Leggings Inspired by J.Lo's Iconic Versace Dress," 12 July 2018 Her remarks on Trump’s family separation policy were made during her first visit to South America to kickstart the expansion of her education charity, the Malala Fund, into Latin America, Reuters reports. Laignee Barron, Time, "Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai Criticizes the Trump Administration's 'Inhumane' Family Separation Policy," 12 July 2018 In this novel way of funding charitable work, a financial institution gives money to a charity, which tries to achieve various specified outcomes. The Economist, "Development-impact bonds are costly, cumbersome—and good," 12 July 2018 He is heavily involved in Best Buddies, a special-needs charity, and used his money to charter a plane to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria to deliver supplies. David Smiley, Joey Flechas And Danny Rivero, miamiherald, "Hustle and Flow: How Philip Levine made the money that’s financing his bid for governor," 10 July 2018 New to this year’s Fest on the Fox lineup is an evening 5K walk/run, which will benefit four area charities, including Hoof Woof and Meow Animal Rescue, Shop With a Cop, D300 Food Pantry and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dundee Township. Erin Sauder, Elgin Courier-News, "Fest on the Fox moves to new location at Carpenter Park in Carpentersville," 10 July 2018 That's what a Polish environmental charity, EcoLogic Group, planned to do, per Radio Poland. Joshua Hafner, USA TODAY, "Stork flies off with phone tracker, charity gets $2,700 bill," 9 July 2018 The Duchess of Sussex with The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall – during today’s celebrations marking The Prince of Wales’ 70th birthday alongside representatives of his charities, Patronages and military affiliations. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Just Confirmed This Weird Royal Rule," 8 July 2018 Kyrgios also has created a charity, and spent time hitting with children and raising money for them. Tom Perrotta, WSJ, "Nick Kyrgios’s Toughest Opponent at Wimbledon Is Himself," 5 July 2018

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

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for charity

Middle English charite, from Anglo-French charité, from Late Latin caritat-, caritas Christian love, from Latin, dearness, from carus dear; akin to Old Irish carae friend, Sanskrit kāma love

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Learn More about charity

Phrases Related to charity

charity shop

Statistics for charity

Last Updated

17 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for charity

The first known use of charity was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for charity



English Language Learners Definition of charity

: the act of giving money, food, or other kinds of help to people who are poor, sick, etc.; also : something (such as money or food) that is given to people who are poor, sick, etc.

: an organization that helps people who are poor, sick, etc.

: the organizations that help people in need


char·i·ty | \ˈcher-ə-tē \
plural charities

Kids Definition of charity

1 : love for others

2 : kindliness especially in judging others … I pray you mercy of my fault, and that ye will of your kindness and your charity forgive it …— Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee

3 : the giving of aid to the needy

4 : aid (as food or money) given to those in need

5 : an organization or fund for helping the needy


plural charities

Legal Definition of charity 

: a gift for humanitarian, philanthropic, or other purposes beneficial to the public (as maintaining a public building) also : an institution (as a hospital or school) or organization founded by such a gift — compare private foundation

Note: Statutory definitions of what institutions and organizations qualify as charities vary. Organizations that are primarily involved in political campaigns or lobbying do not qualify as charities for tax purposes, but trusts for them may be considered charitable. In addition to tax-exempt status, charities have also generally been granted immunity from tort suits.

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