char·​i·​ty | \ ˈcher-ə-tē How to pronounce charity (audio) , 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.

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.
Recent Examples on the Web State law says Oxendine could have given leftover campaign money back to donors, to charity or to other candidates. Jeff Amy, ajc, 12 May 2022 Hunter supported her husband when Cumberbatch was honored by Queen Elizabeth II with the CBE (Commander of the British Empire award) in recognition of his contributions to the performing arts and to charity in November 2015. Sophie Dodd,, 6 May 2022 If the connection to charity implies more attention to projects than products, resist that impression with Onehope wines. Sara L. Schneider, Robb Report, 3 May 2022 Donations to charity are tax deductible, of course. Robert W. Wood, Forbes, 2 May 2022 Lip Jellies — with part of each box's proceeds going to charity. Sarah Han, Allure, 1 May 2022 Landowners can claim an income-tax deduction for the value of the conservation easement as a donation to charity. Richard Rubin, WSJ, 1 May 2022 The two reached a $7 million settlement in 2016, with Heard reportedly donating her earnings to charity, though revelations from the trial have thrown that into question. Ej Dickson, Rolling Stone, 30 Apr. 2022 Back then, Roberts, Shell and other top Comcast executives had also pledged to donate 100 percent of their 2020 salaries to charity. Georg Szalai, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for charity

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near charity



charity school

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Statistics for charity

Last Updated

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Charity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for charity


char·​i·​ty | \ ˈcher-ə-tē How to pronounce charity (audio) \
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 in King Arthur's Court
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.

More from Merriam-Webster on charity

Nglish: Translation of charity for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of charity for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about charity


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