phi·​lan·​thro·​pist fə-ˈlan(t)-thrə-pist How to pronounce philanthropist (audio)
: one who makes an active effort to promote human welfare : a person who practices philanthropy

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The Greek root of philanthropy may be literally translated as "loving people." The English word can refer to general goodwill to one's fellow people, as well as to the active effort to promote the welfare of people, but in modern use it is most often used to refer specifically to the practice of giving money and time to help make life better for others. A person who practices philanthropy is called a philanthropist; the term philanthrope was formerly used with the same meaning, but it is now considered archaic.

Examples of philanthropist in a Sentence

Among his converts was Arthur Tappan, a New York textile merchant and philanthropist who sheltered and guided the development of the antislavery movement through its long early years by dint of sheer openhandedness. Marilynne Robinson, The Death of Adam, (1998) 2005
John D. was indisputably a great philanthropist. He took care of his family first, of course; but he founded the University of Chicago in 1892, the Rockefeller Institute (now Rockefeller University) in 1901, and the Rockefeller Foundation in 1911, and made other substantial gifts along the way. Robert M. Solow, New Republic, 23 Dec. 2002
You had to admire it and admire the man, who sat now like a benign locust, his slender insectile body swamped in a black leather chair, leaning over the desk, all smiles, a parasite disguised as a philanthropist. Zadie Smith, White Teeth, 2000
… a hundred-and-one-year-old Jewish philanthropist in Hartsdale named Henry J. Gaisman donated two and a quarter million dollars to the Archdiocese to purchase the property and preserve the integrity of the landmark. Brendan Gill, New Yorker, 10 June 1991
Recent Examples on the Web Launched by fashion veteran turned philanthropist Tania Fares last year, Fashion Trust U.S. is a non-profit focused on finding, funding and mentoring new design talent. Lindzi Scharf, The Hollywood Reporter, 10 Apr. 2024 Shaheen and Anil Nanji, longtime LACO advocates, community leaders and philanthropists, received the LACO Heartstrings Award. Paul Grein, Billboard, 9 Apr. 2024 Seinfeld has been married to his wife Jessica, a cookbook author and philanthropist, since 1999. Dustin Nelson,, 4 Apr. 2024 During the same era in Britain, philanthropists donated books to libraries for community enrichment, but only among the stacks; these libraries did not generally circulate books. Elizabeth Webster, Smithsonian Magazine, 3 Apr. 2024 Ryan takes the baton As for Ryan, the CSO’s 12th maestro addressed a group of community leaders and philanthropists Tuesday night at a gathering at Bank of America headquarters in uptown. Adam Bell, Charlotte Observer, 3 Apr. 2024 The world needs philanthropists willing to make imperfect bets and continue evolving based on real-time feedback. Kris Putnam-Walkerly, Forbes, 28 Mar. 2024 Shanahan, a lawyer, philanthropist and ex-wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, provided $4 million to support a controversial $7 million Kennedy advertisement that ran during the Super Bowl. Suhail Bhat, USA TODAY, 26 Mar. 2024 Bezos has been giving out these awards to philanthropists since 2021. Nicole Acevedo, NBC News, 15 Mar. 2024

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

Word History


see philanthropy

First Known Use

circa 1736, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of philanthropist was circa 1736

Dictionary Entries Near philanthropist

Cite this Entry

“Philanthropist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

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