al·​tru·​ist | \ ˈal-trü-ist How to pronounce altruist (audio) \

Definition of altruist

: one that adheres to or practices altruism: such as
a : an unselfish person whose actions show concern for the welfare of others Kim signed up with Compass, a District-based group that serves the growing number of altruists who donate not only time and money to charity and the arts but also their professional expertise.— Robert McCartney
b : an animal that behaves in a way which is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but which benefits the survival of others of its species Reciprocal altruism refers to the exchange of beneficial acts between individuals, in which the benefits to the recipient exceed the cost to the altruist. … Although the potential for reciprocal altruism exists in many animal societies, most interactions occur between closely related individuals …— Robert M. Seyfarth et al.

Examples of altruist in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web An effective altruist looks to data to decide where and when to donate to a cause, basing the decision on impersonal goals like saving the most lives, or creating the most income, per dollar donated. Steven Ehrlich, Forbes, 6 Oct. 2021 One adventurer’s selfish act more than 50 years ago might not bear emphasizing—except that Tompkins later became a famous altruist who renounced the business world and moved to a cabin in Patagonia. Michael O’donnell, The Atlantic, 5 Aug. 2021 As the park’s lamps clicked on and night arrived, so, too, did the stream of altruists. John Woodrow Cox, Washington Post, 24 Dec. 2019 The great writers Anton Chekhov and Mikhail Bulgakov praised the Russian doctor as a humanist, an altruist and an enlightener. Maria Danilova, Harper's magazine, 28 Aug. 2019 Effective altruists congregate the world over with nearly 400 global chapters, often connected to high-ranking universities or tech centers. Natasha Frost, Quartz, 20 July 2019 Bold-face altruists such as Margaret Williams were among those indulging at the admittedly addictive cookie spread. Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle, 17 June 2019 The book is not a kind of Will MacAskill/Peter Singer/effective altruist moral investigation of how to do charitable giving better, or what our individual obligations to donate might be. Dylan Matthews, Vox, 17 Dec. 2018 Inevitably, even effective altruists have to accept a degree of uncertainty about the impact of their donation. The Economist, 2 June 2018

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

1868, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of altruist was in 1868

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Last Updated

18 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Altruist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Oct. 2021.

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