wel·​fare | \ ˈwel-ˌfer How to pronounce welfare (audio) \

Definition of welfare

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the state of doing well especially in respect to good fortune, happiness, well-being, or prosperity must look out for your own welfare
2a : aid in the form of money or necessities for those in need
b : an agency or program through which such aid is distributed



Definition of welfare (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or concerned with welfare and especially with improvement of the welfare of disadvantaged social groups welfare legislation
2 : receiving public welfare benefits welfare families

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Synonyms & Antonyms for welfare

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Noun

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Examples of welfare in a Sentence

Noun He wants to do away with welfare. I have your welfare at heart. The welfare of all the orphans was at stake. She donates to organizations concerned about animal welfare.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The word emergency is described in state law as a circumstance that will likely result in harm to a person’s health, safety, or welfare. Ivana Hrynkiw | Ihrynkiw@al.com, al, "Legal battle rages over Golden Flake queen’s competency, ability to make decisions on fortune," 29 Dec. 2019 Her role is key in the child welfare world: to ensure a healthy pregnancy for low-income mothers at risk of poor outcomes and to get their firstborns off to a healthy start. Mary Jo Pitzl, Arizona Republic, "Faces of child welfare | Catrina Popelier: 'You take care of the mom, you take care of the baby'," 24 Dec. 2019 Two Denver property owners must defend their short-term rental licenses next month, testing a new rule that the licenses can be revoked if a property harms the public health, safety or welfare of a neighborhood. Conrad Swanson, The Denver Post, "A new city rule is tested as 2 Denver property owners must defend their short-term rental licenses," 23 Dec. 2019 As Americans prepare to watch their favorite Thanksgiving football matchups, these important public health questions regarding the welfare of children demand answers. Lisa Kearns, STAT, "Concussions, broken bones, and more: a week of football in the U.S.," 27 Nov. 2019 There’s an irony in the technological erosion of general welfare, because innovations so often promise to benefit our lives—sometimes by improving public safety explicitly. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "Technology Sabotaged Public Safety," 10 Oct. 2019 This augurs poorly for the welfare of American physicians. Kunal Sindhu, Quartz, "The US is on the verge of a devastating, but avoidable doctor shortage," 30 July 2019 Dwight Eisenhower embraced some New Deal policies, expanding Social Security and supporting low-income housing, while Richard Nixon tried to expand federal support for child welfare. John Broich, The Conversation, "The difference between ‘left’ and ‘liberal’ – and why voters need to know," 30 July 2019 Aside from changing federal laws to provide more protection for animals, Hulebak stressed fostering as one of the most important ways to help alleviate Houston's animal welfare problem. Rebecca Hennes, Houston Chronicle, "Before and after: Houston dog rescued on the brink of death gets a new life," 3 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Even overtly welfare-ish Medicaid payments—originally intended to provide care for poor children—now go largely to long-term care for mainly middle-class elderly. Eric B. Schnurer, The Atlantic, "'It's the Grandparents Stealing From the Grandchildren'," 12 Dec. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'welfare.' 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 welfare


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1886, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for welfare


Middle English, from the phrase wel faren to fare well

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Time Traveler for welfare

Time Traveler

The first known use of welfare was in the 14th century

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Statistics for welfare

Last Updated

22 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Welfare.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/welfare. Accessed 26 January 2020.

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More Definitions for welfare


How to pronounce welfare (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of welfare

: a government program for poor or unemployed people that helps pay for their food, housing, medical costs, etc.
: the state of being happy, healthy, or successful


wel·​fare | \ ˈwel-ˌfer How to pronounce welfare (audio) \

Kids Definition of welfare

1 : the state of being or doing well especially in relation to happiness, well-being, or success
2 : aid in the form of money or necessities for people in need

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Comments on welfare

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


to express in a more acceptable way

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