phi·lan·thro·py | \fə-ˈlan(t)-thrə-pē \
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

Rather the 27 young ladies, who elegantly nailed their curtsies June 16 during California Pacific Medical Center’s 54th San Francisco Debutante Ball at the Westin St. Francis Hotel, were focused on college and philanthropy. Catherine Bigelow,, "A bumper crop of 27 debutantes make SF debut," 25 June 2018 Since 2013, The Center has hosted its annual Fashion Centered benefit, an evening where the worlds of fashion and philanthropy converge for human rights. Vogue, "Fashion Centered 2018 Brings Inclusivity to the Forefront," 4 June 2018 The campaign has also partnered with Revolutions Per Minute, a nonprofit agency that provides artists with strategy and support for activism and philanthropy. Taylor Mims, Billboard, "#iVoted Campaign Turns Election Night Into a Celebration With Free Concerts Across the Country," 25 May 2018 Which begs the question: with retail therapy, star players, food and philanthropy under one intimate roof, why go out to the ballgame? Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle, "José Altuve, Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers score a home run for Houston charities at Tootsies," 21 May 2018 In December, the author was made a Companion of Honor by Prince William at Buckingham Palace for her contributions to literature and philanthropy. Alexia Fernandez,, "J.K. Rowling Trolls Donald Trump By Comparing Royal Wedding Crowd to His Inauguration Attendance," 19 May 2018 Since then, the group has undertaken several fund-raising pushes and has secured major gifts from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and a variety of corporations and philanthropies. Maya Dukmasova, Chicago Reader, "News / Arts / Race An online fund-raising push may finally bring a monument to Ida B. Wells to Chicago," 14 Apr. 2018 But Peabody is most remembered as the father of modern philanthropy, being responsible for more than $8 million in donations (at the time, an astonishing amount of money). David Meyer, Fortune, "Google Doodle Just Honored George Peabody, Financier Who Became the 'Father of Modern Philanthropy'," 16 Mar. 2018 Sweet Charity The Getty family is well known for its philanthropy. New York Times, "Growing Up Getty," 23 June 2018

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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Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for philanthropy

The first known use of philanthropy was circa 1623

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More Definitions for philanthropy



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 \
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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Comments on philanthropy

What made you want to look up philanthropy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

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