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

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

More specifically, Harris intends to create a Bureau of Children and Family Justice to focus on children’s civil rights in child welfare, education and juvenile justice systems. Breanna Edwards, Essence, "Kamala Harris Releases Plan To Overhaul Criminal Justice System," 9 Sep. 2019 Anthony’s mother raised the family with earnings from a part-time job at Subway and $793 in monthly welfare benefits, according to DCFS records. Los Angeles Times, "The horrific death of Anthony Avalos and the many missed chances to save him," 4 Sep. 2019 After two years of trimming money from his 401(k) and drawing on public welfare, desperation drove Rosado to a job managing a group home, but the West Hartford man was laid off again last spring. Rebecca Lurye, courant.com, "James Rosado was laid off from his insurance job. Now he stands to earn a six-figure salary working in manufacturing.," 18 Aug. 2019 Artists such as Musgraves are, in a very concrete way, speaking for their own and their fans’ welfare. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "The Reason Musicians Speak Up About Mass Shootings," 7 Aug. 2019 To tighten the standards, USDA is seeking to limit automatic SNAP eligibility to households that receive welfare benefits valued at more than $50 a month for at least six months. Alexia Elejalde-ruiz, chicagotribune.com, "77,000 Illinois households could lose food stamps under proposed USDA changes," 25 July 2019 Other than cash, the only welfare benefits that would qualify are subsidized employment, work supports such as transportation, and child care, Lipps said. Washington Post, The Denver Post, "Trump administration moves to end food stamps for 3 million people," 23 July 2019 Molly Young, a watchdog reporter who has focused on the child-welfare system, pointed out a gap in Oregon’s system: biological parents did not need to undergo background checks before their child was placed with them by the state. oregonlive.com, "Journalistic impact can be measured in new laws, proposed reforms: Editor’s notebook," 23 Aug. 2019 Macau has a more generous welfare system than Hong Kong, including better provision of social housing. The Economist, "Why Macau is impervious to the turmoil in Hong Kong," 22 Aug. 2019

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

15 Oct 2019

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 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).


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