wel·​fare | \ˈwel-ˌfer \

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

good, interest, weal, well-being

Antonyms: Noun


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Examples of welfare in a Sentence


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

In numerology, which studies the significance of numbers, the number 18 signifies the welfare of humanity, an essential part of war. Eileen Reslen, Good Housekeeping, "10 Significant Moments You Missed From 'This Is Us' Last Night," 17 Oct. 2018 According to Express, Harry—an avid hunter who participated in his own first grouse shoot 21 years ago—skipped out on the royal tradition, reportedly to appease his new wife, Meghan Markle, who is an outspoken advocate for animal welfare. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "The Royal Family Is Reportedly Stunned That Prince Harry Skipped This Huge Balmoral Tradition for Meghan Markle," 1 Sep. 2018 The party was not trusted on the economy and was associated with stances on welfare, gay rights and the death penalty that too many voters found strange or threatening. The Economist, "Fork in the roadShould the party move to the left or to the centre?," 12 July 2018 The girls were arrested and charged with first-degree endangering the welfare of a minor. Josh Magness, star-telegram, "Teens were 'laughing hysterically' as they terrorized 1-year-old with a Taser, cops say," 10 July 2018 The innovative company has even collaborated with Dr. Temple Grandin, an expert in the field of animal welfare, to create a set of humane guidelines for handling its cattle. Natasha Wolff, Town & Country, "The Best Mail-Order Beef and Butcher Shops Across America," 13 June 2018 The language establishing the sanctuary in 1967 put the welfare of the animals first, even above research or viewing. Christopher Solomon, Outside Online, "Op-Ed: Alaska’s Pebble Mine Somehow Just Got Worse," 11 June 2018 The bill also includes an amendment that could have restricted California’s ability to set its own policies on farm animal welfare, such as its rules regarding farm animal confinement, according to the Humane Society of the United States. Tara Duggan, San Francisco Chronicle, "What Bay Area residents need to know about the 2018 Farm Bill," 18 May 2018 Abrams is also extremely proud of introducing legislation designed to improve the welfare of grandparents and other kin responsible for raising children and securing increased funding to support these families. Essence.com, "Can She Turn A Red State Blue? Stacey Abrams Intends To In Georgia," 26 Apr. 2018

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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Statistics for welfare

Last Updated

12 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for welfare

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

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More Definitions for welfare



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 \

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).


something that serves to warn or remind

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