Definition of charity in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈtʃarɪti/

noun (plural charities)

1An organization set up to provide help and raise money for those in need: the charity provides practical help for homeless people
More example sentences
  • Without your support, the services that charities provide could come to an end.
  • He now appears at pubs and clubs across Europe and raises money for cancer charities.
  • The branch also raises money for local charities and at one stage put on shows for the local community.
non-profit-making organization, non-profit organization, not-for-profit organization, voluntary organization, charitable institution;
fund, trust, foundation, cause, movement
1.1 [mass noun] The body of organizations viewed collectively as the object of fundraising or of donations: the proceeds of the sale will go to charity
More example sentences
  • Cash will be the vital ingredient as celebrity chefs cook up a special fundraising treat for charity.
  • During those years we shared many experiences particularly when fundraising for charity.
  • There have been over a hundred performances so far, several of them as fund-raising ventures for charity.
2 [mass noun] The voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need: the care of the poor must not be left to private charity
More example sentences
  • Second, the personal connection at the heart of private charity cannot be reproduced by government.
  • I just came across this paper by Gruber and Hungerman on the crowding out of private sector charity by government spending.
  • A fourth way to provide security in a free society is by voluntary charity.
financial assistance, aid, welfare, relief, financial relief, funding;
handouts, gifts, presents, largesse, donations, contributions, grants, endowments, scholarships, bursaries, subsidies;
historical alms, almsgiving
rare donatives, benefactions
philanthropy, humanitarianism, humanity, altruism, public-spiritedness, social conscience, social concern, benevolence, benignity, beneficence, generosity, magnanimity, munificence, largesse;
unselfishness, selflessness, self-sacrifice, self-denial
2.1Help or money given to those in need: an unemployed teacher living on charity
More example sentences
  • Giving of private charity obviously has a ‘feel good’ factor to it.
  • Those who cannot perform work are left to private charity, which often means begging.
  • Lepers were separated in leper hospitals built with private charity because people were afraid of defilement.
3 [mass noun] Kindness and tolerance in judging others: she found it hard to look on her mother with much charity
More example sentences
  • As a result, he is punished with terrible visions of how his daughter's future might have been, learning that human despair is not to be judged and that charity should be given to all.
  • He represents the best things in life - hope, faith, goodness, charity, kindness and love.
  • She was very well known for her kindness and charity and, at her home, there was always someone calling in for tea and a chat.
goodwill, compassion, consideration, concern, kindness, kindliness, kind-heartedness, tenderness, tender-heartedness, warm-heartedness, brotherly love, love, sympathy, understanding, fellow feeling, thoughtfulness, indulgence, tolerance, liberality, decency, nobility, graciousness, lenience, leniency
literary bounty, bounteousness
rare caritas
3.1 archaic Love of humankind, typically in a Christian context: faith, hope, and charity
More example sentences
  • Crusading for them was an act of love and charity by which, like the Good Samaritan, they were aiding their neighbors in distress.
  • They were keenly aware of their sinfulness and eager to undertake the hardships of the Crusade as a penitential act of charity and love.
  • As any good scholar of St. Augustine knows, the decisive mark of the Catholic Church is charity, not purity.


charity begins at home

proverb A person’s first responsibility is for the needs of their own family and friends.
Example sentences
  • And since charity begins at home, Vicky enlisted the help of her 57-year-old mum Glenys, who is also the grandmother of three youngsters.
  • I have always believed that charity begins at home.
  • Surely, everybody knows that charity begins at home.


Late Old English (in the sense 'Christian love of one's fellows'): from Old French charite, from Latin caritas, from carus 'dear'.

  • Charity begins at carus, the Latin word for ‘dear’. This was the base of Latin caritas, ‘dearness, love’, which eventually gave us the English word. The early sense of charity, in the 12th century, was ‘Christian love of your fellow men’. The modern sense developed from the fact that supporting the needy is one of the qualities of this. The saying charity begins at home, ‘a person's first responsibility is for the needs of their own family and friends’, dates back to the 14th century. A version in Beaumont and Fletcher's play Wit without Money (1625) goes ‘Charity and beating begins at home’.

Words that rhyme with charity

angularity, barbarity, bipolarity, circularity, clarity, complementarity, familiarity, granularity, hilarity, insularity, irregularity, jocularity, linearity, parity, particularity, peculiarity, polarity, popularity, regularity, secularity, similarity, singularity, solidarity, subsidiarity, unitarity, vernacularity, vulgarity

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: char|ity

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.