Definition of alms in English:


plural noun

  • (in historical contexts) money or food given to poor people.

    ‘the riders stopped to distribute alms’
    • ‘She begged for food and alms, reaching wordlessly through the open windows of the buses parked at the bus stand.’
    • ‘However, our lesson also states showing mercy by giving alms and earnestly praying elicits God's reward.’
    • ‘They also served as parish priests and offered hospitality to travellers and alms to the poor.’
    • ‘One day, as she was giving out alms for the poor, the King arrived and so she hid the alms in the fold of her gown, scared that he would be angered by the amount she was giving to the needy.’
    • ‘Gifts of alms are for charitable purposes and not the institutional needs of the temple.’
    • ‘They pray five times a day, fast during the month of Ramadan, perform the sacred pilgrimage to Mecca and give alms to the poor.’
    • ‘The point used to be to give alms to poor people on Hallowe'en and if you didn't then bad luck would come to you.’
    • ‘In other words, belief in God and efforts to please Him must be accompanied by acts of charity and alms can be both voluntary and compulsory.’
    • ‘The empathy gained by fasting is meant to socialise people into giving alms to the poor which is considered to be the very basis of sociality.’
    • ‘Traditionally, it was on December 26th that the alms boxes in English churches were opened and their contents distributed to the poor.’
    • ‘A person who has found money must give half of it as alms or he will lose more than what he found.’
    • ‘He had been handing out alms to starving refugee children.’
    • ‘The destitute depended on begging, soup kitchens run by monks and nuns, and alms distributed by guilds, confraternities, and urban hospitals.’
    • ‘The tenth day of the month of Muharram is observed by visits to the graves of relatives, followed by prayers and the giving of alms to the poor.’
    • ‘When a landlord gives them alms, usually wheat flour or grain, a Basdeva sings a song in praise of the family.’
    • ‘Setting the tone for the rest of the journey, the queen made public appearances and distributed alms to the poor.’
    • ‘She started distributing alms to the weak hands that reached out and then suddenly she stopped.’
    • ‘To celebrate Id al-Fitr, Moslems say the special feast prayer in a community format and give special alms to the poor.’
    • ‘But as soon as he went away, Ravana appeared in the form of a monk begging for alms.’
    • ‘Monks, adorned in their saffron robes, walking silent and barefoot, collect their alms from food vendors and passers-by.’
    gift, gifts, donation, donations, charity, handout, handouts, bounty, benefaction, subsidy, offering, offerings, contribution, contributions, endowment, favour, favours, largesse
    View synonyms


Old English ælmysse, ælmesse, from Christian Latin eleemosyna, from Greek eleēmosunē ‘compassion’, from eleēmōn ‘compassionate’, from eleos ‘mercy’.