phi·​lan·​thro·​py fə-ˈlan(t)-thrə-pē How to pronounce philanthropy (audio)
plural philanthropies
: goodwill to fellow members of the human race
especially : active effort to promote human welfare
: an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes
: an organization distributing or supported by funds set aside for humanitarian purposes

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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 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
Recent Examples on the Web The contest was not just a show of sportsmanship but of philanthropy. Danny Emerman, The Mercury News, 18 Feb. 2024 As the Detroit Grand Prix moved off Belle Isle in 2022 to race in downtown Detroit, race organizers broadened their philanthropy. Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press, 17 Feb. 2024 Starting a new nonprofit has pitfalls that many athletes don't anticipate, said Andrew Morton, an attorney and partner at Handler Thayer, who leads their sports and entertainment philanthropy practice. Thalia Beaty, Quartz, 13 Feb. 2024 Both sons are heavily involved in philanthropy in their respective communities. Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times, 11 Feb. 2024 This conversation should also extend to attitudes towards philanthropy and charitable contributions. True Tamplin, Forbes, 10 Feb. 2024 The annual event brings together fashion, entertainment, and philanthropy to bring awareness to women's heart health. Michelle Lee, Peoplemag, 1 Feb. 2024 For a group that is distributing so much money, the Holdfast Collective has so far managed to remain largely under the radar, unknown to several philanthropy experts and Democratic fund-raisers who were asked about it. Kenneth P. Vogel, New York Times, 30 Jan. 2024 This article was reported through a fellowship supported by the Lilly Endowment and administered by the Chronicle of Philanthropy to expand coverage of philanthropy and nonprofits. Juliette Rihl, The Arizona Republic, 19 Jan. 2024 See More

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

circa 1623, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of philanthropy was circa 1623

Dictionary Entries Near philanthropy

Cite this Entry

“Philanthropy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


phi·​lan·​thro·​py fə-ˈlan(t)-thrə-pē How to pronounce philanthropy (audio)
plural philanthropies
: a spirit of goodwill toward all people especially when expressed in active efforts to help others
: a charitable act or gift
: an organization which distributes or is supported by charitable contributions

More from Merriam-Webster on philanthropy

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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