phi·​lan·​thro·​py | \ fə-ˈlan(t)-thrə-pē How to pronounce philanthropy (audio) \
plural philanthropies

Definition of philanthropy

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

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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.

Examples of philanthropy in a Sentence

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 Gates, Time, 11 Aug. 2008 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 Updike, New York Review of Books, 10 Aug. 2006 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 Dalrymple, National Review, 26 Sept. 2005 The family's philanthropy made it possible to build the public library. among the industrialist's philanthropies was a college scholarship fund for deserving students from the inner city
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Recent Examples on the Web She also became invested in philanthropy, founding Wishing Wells Collections, an organization that made clothing for people with limited mobility. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "Dawn Wells, Mary Ann on 'Gilligan's Island,' dies at 82," 30 Dec. 2020 The massively popular YouTuber, aka Jimmy Donaldson, has 48.4 million subscribers and has gained traction for his frenetic flavor of philanthropy. Anna Caplan, Dallas News, "YouTuber MrBeast brings delivery-only burger chain to Dallas area, and business has been ‘crazy’," 21 Dec. 2020 In the world of philanthropy, such unrestricted funds are rare. Kate Santich,, "Central Florida Y, Heart of Florida United Way get ‘one-in-a-lifetime’ donations from MacKenzie Scott," 19 Dec. 2020 San Francisco has a long history of philanthropy — and our Opera, Ballet, museums, universities and hospitals are enriched by it. Heather Knight,, "Airbnb’s CEO is now worth $11 billion. Here’s how he can help revive San Francisco," 15 Dec. 2020 Allen has spent most of her career in philanthropy and grew up in Detroit. Kelly Smith, Star Tribune, "McKnight Foundation in Minneapolis names new leader," 14 Dec. 2020 This view cannot be squared with the longstanding purpose of philanthropy. Elise Westhoff, WSJ, "The Left Wants a Philanthropy of the Few," 14 Dec. 2020 At one task-force meeting, Amanda Moniz, who curates the history of philanthropy, spoke about the challenges of collecting oral histories from health-care centers in predominantly Latino communities. Andrew Dickson, The New Yorker, "How Will We Tell the Story of the Coronavirus?," 9 Dec. 2020 America has a rich tradition of philanthropy that has, since its Founding, strengthened and enhanced our communities in powerful ways. Lindsay Craig, National Review, "Join National Review Institute This Giving Tuesday," 1 Dec. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of philanthropy

circa 1623, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for philanthropy

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

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Time Traveler for philanthropy

Time Traveler

The first known use of philanthropy was circa 1623

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Statistics for philanthropy

Last Updated

6 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Philanthropy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for philanthropy


How to pronounce philanthropy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of philanthropy

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


phi·​lan·​thro·​py | \ fə-ˈlan-thrə-pē How to pronounce philanthropy (audio) \
plural philanthropies

Kids Definition of philanthropy

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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