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

The 25-member advisory board is more than twice as large as the old, nine-member board that used to oversee child welfare in the county. San Diego Union-Tribune, "County seeks foster youth for its child welfare advisory board," 12 Sep. 2019 Though the European Union has allocated around $1.9 billion to the Greek government to subsidize refugee welfare, Greece has refused to improve the facilities for fear of encouraging more migrants. New York Times, "Migration to Greece Is Rising, as Erdogan Warns of Still More," 11 Sep. 2019 The city’s intentions during collective bargaining negotiations with the Portland Police Association are to ensure a fair and meaningful process that results in a contract that serves the interest and welfare of the public and supports our officers. oregonlive, "Portland police labor contract: Community coalition calls for public input, changes," 11 Sep. 2019 These are resources that can be used to pay for health care or they can be used to provide corporate welfare for folks who are underpaying their workers. Seamus Kirst, Teen Vogue, "Stacey Abrams Wants You To Know That Politicians Are Trying To Keep You From Voting," 6 Sep. 2019 During that period, at least 13 calls were made by teachers, police, counselors and relatives to the child abuse hotline about Anthony’s welfare. Los Angeles Times, "The horrific death of Anthony Avalos and the many missed chances to save him," 4 Sep. 2019 Jean Birthday Wish Challenge in an attempt to raise $100,000 in 24 hours to endow the Worship, Work, Win fund for student athletic excellence and student-athlete welfare. Jenna West, SI.com, "Loyola-Chicago Celebrates Sister Jean's 100th Birthday," 21 Aug. 2019 Teen mothers are more likely to end up impoverished and on public assistance programs, like welfare. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "15 Facts About Teen Pregnancy You Need to Know," 21 Aug. 2019 Among the front-line personnel lost during those years of contraction were drug counselors stationed at welfare and child-protective-services offices, who’d been assigned to connect addicted parents with treatment. Claudia Rowe, The Seattle Times, "‘Those were the darkest days’: How key budget cuts fueled Washington’s opioid crisis," 18 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

17 Sep 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).


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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