noun phi·lan·thro·py \ fə-ˈlan(t)-thrə-pē \
|Updated on: 6 Aug 2018

Definition of philanthropy

plural philanthropies
1 : goodwill to fellow members of the human race; especially : active effort to promote human welfare
2 a : an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes
b : an organization distributing or supported by funds set aside for humanitarian purposes

Examples of philanthropy in a Sentence

  1. For many years, Microsoft has used corporate philanthropy to bring technology to people who can't get it otherwise, donating more than $3 billion in cash and software to try to bridge the digital divide. —Bill GatesTime11 Aug. 2008
  2. Cooper, born in New York City in 1791, was himself an inventor and a hands-on industrialist, whose fortune got its start in the glue business, greatly expanded in the iron industry, eventually included more than half the telegraph lines in the United States, and was significantly invested in philanthropy and the cause of public education. —John UpdikeNew York Review of Books10 Aug. 2006
  3. In conditions of anarchy, a crude and violent order, based upon brute force and psychopathic ruthlessness, soon establishes itself, which regards philanthropy not as a friend but as an enemy and a threat. —Theodore DalrympleNational Review26 Sept. 2005
  4. The family's philanthropy made it possible to build the public library.

  5. among the industrialist's philanthropies was a college scholarship fund for deserving students from the inner city

Recent Examples of philanthropy from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'philanthropy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

How Should You Use philanthropy?

With its anthro- root, philanthropy means literally "love of mankind". Thus, philanthropy is giving money for a purpose or cause benefiting people who you don't personally know. (Animals are usually included as well.) Individuals have often set up their own permanent philanthropic organizations in the form of foundations. The greatest American philanthropists have included Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Andrew Carnegie, and John D. Rockefeller, but tens of millions of us could be considered philanthropists on a much smaller scale.

Origin and Etymology of philanthropy

Late Latin philanthropia, from Greek philanthrōpia, from philanthrōpos loving people, from phil- + anthrōpos human being

PHILANTHROPY Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of philanthropy for English Language Learners

  • : the practice of giving money and time to help make life better for other people

PHILANTHROPY Defined for Kids


noun phi·lan·thro·py \ fə-ˈlan-thrə-pē \

Definition of philanthropy for Students

plural philanthropies
1 : desire and active effort to help other people
2 : something done or given to help needy people
3 : an organization giving or supported by charitable gifts

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very hard to disturb or upset

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