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

Meals on Wheels is part of Sound Generations, one of 12 organizations that benefit from The Seattle Times Fund For The Needy, the annual philanthropy drive that kicks off this weekend. Rachel Lerman, The Seattle Times, "The power of readers’ generosity: The Seattle Times kicks off latest Fund For the Needy," 19 Nov. 2018 The children, boys and girls ages 12-17, get a one-time clothing allowance of $75, said Joe Dulin, chief philanthropy officer. Mary Jo Pitzl, azcentral, "'This is ripping my heart out': How to help migrant kids held in shelters," 21 June 2018 The curriculum includes phonics, mathematics, science, foreign language, yoga and a philanthropy program that teaches children kindness and generosity. Laura Groch,, "New brewery tasting room, dental treatment facility," 21 June 2018 Yvonne McJetters rises and introduces herself to an economist and two philanthropy executives. Hannah Lang, charlotteobserver, "'Spread the love!': Fed officials hear candid comments on economic disparity," 1 June 2018 And just like Harry, Spencer has also dedicated her time to philanthropy. Stephanie Nolasco, Fox News, "Princess Diana's niece shocks in controversial photo shoot wearing marijuana necklace," 30 Aug. 2018 She was exposed to philanthropy at a young age through her family’s travels to developing countries. P.k. Daniel,, "Union-Tribune Academic Athletes of the Year," 7 June 2018 David Koch, who served as the Libertarian Party's vice presidential candidate in 1980, had begun focus more on philanthropy in recent years. Steve Peoples,, "Conservative icon David Koch leaving business, politics," 5 June 2018 In their commitment to philanthropy, too, both Markle and Harry have continued Diana’s legacy of charitable activities, ensuring that her legacy lives on. Time, "All the Ways Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Paid Tribute to Princess Diana at Their Royal Wedding," 19 May 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

10 Dec 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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