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.

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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 Professor Laetsch raised millions of dollars for the university and for charities. Nanette Asimov,, "Watson McMillan ‘Mac’ Laetsch, UC Berkeley botanical expert, dies," 1 Feb. 2020 This change was made to maximize the amount of money that can be made for charity. Allen Kim, CNN, "NBA will honor Kobe Bryant, his daughter and helicopter crash victims with special patches during All-Star weekend," 31 Jan. 2020 Giving via GoFundMe, for example, isn’t always for charity. Emily Schwartz Greco, The Conversation, "Giving is changing as philanthropy faces more scrutiny," 21 Jan. 2020 Her suggestions for how to find your own community, including joining parent groups and volunteering for charities, certainly seem applicable to a young family about to split their time between Britain and Canada. Washington Post, "What is ‘ubuntu,’ and might it have influenced Meghan and Prince Harry’s Megxit?," 20 Jan. 2020 No shaving: Members of the Avon Lake Police Department participated in No Shave November/December and raised $1,040 for charity. cleveland, "Avon Library Levy Issue 12 campaign kicks off: Short Takes on Avon, Avon Lake and North Ridgeville," 18 Jan. 2020 The reboot will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and will feature celebrity contestants competing for charity. Laura Hanrahan, Woman's Day, "'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire' Is Returning With Celebrity Contestants and Jimmy Kimmel As The Host," 9 Jan. 2020 The special 20th anniversary run of episodes will feature celebrity contestants playing for charity, with celebrities confirmed to appear to be announced at a later date. Sydney Bucksbaum,, "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," 8 Jan. 2020 This past weekend, Buckingham Palace released a darling photo of four generations of royals, and the next three heirs to the throne of England, making Christmas puddings for charity. Roxanne Adamiyatt, Town & Country, "Queen Elizabeth Has Crown Ornaments on Her Christmas Tree," 23 Dec. 2019

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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Time Traveler for charity

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for charity

Last Updated

7 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Charity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for charity


How to pronounce charity (audio)

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 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
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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