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

Another federal law, signed in February, expanded this effort by providing services for families at risk of entering the child welfare system. Leah Asmelash, charlotteobserver, "How one woman wants to help foster care youth, and it involves cake," 12 July 2018 One issue that advocates have raised is that LGBTQ children need extra protections in the welfare system. NBC News, "Death of Anthony Avalos has parallels to another child abuse case in L.A.," 8 July 2018 Police were responding to a request for a welfare check on a friend who had not come to work. Katy Moeller, idahostatesman, "Two dead in likely murder-suicide Thursday, Meridian police say," 6 July 2018 The notion of a national child welfare system, with coherent trends and corresponding lessons, is somewhat illusory. The Christian Science Monitor, "Extending compassion beyond migrant kids," 26 June 2018 About 45 percent come through the juvenile justice system; the rest are placed through the child welfare system. Samantha Melamed, Philly.com, "Can Philly stop sending kids to institutional placements?," 21 June 2018 Indiana has more children in its child welfare system than any surrounding state, and some caseworkers have caseloads that exceed standards. Kaitlin Lange, Indianapolis Star, "Holcomb dedicates $25 million from state's surplus to help DCS after six-month review," 18 June 2018 Long festering problems in Indiana's child welfare system exploded into public view in December, when former DCS director Mary Beth Bonaventura resigned. Brian Slodysko, Post-Tribune, "Holcomb pledges action on 'culture of fear' at Indiana DCS," 18 June 2018 In the Netherlands, direct displacement hardly ever happens and very few, if any, of the families ended up on the streets thanks to the country’s strong welfare system and extensive tenant rights. Olga Mecking, The Atlantic, "‘Cargo-Bike Moms’ Are Gentrifying the Netherlands," 11 June 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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Phrases Related to welfare

corporate welfare

on welfare

welfare family

Statistics for welfare

Last Updated

3 Sep 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).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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