Definition of charity in English:


nounPlural charities

  • 1An organization set up to provide help and raise money for those in need.

    ‘the charity provides practical help for homeless people’
    • ‘A relationship support charity urgently needs volunteer evening receptionists to work in an East Lancashire office.’
    • ‘The charity desperately needs volunteers who would be willing to spend even one hour a week just talking to lonely older people, he says.’
    • ‘This charity is a totally voluntary one without any government support.’
    • ‘The charity also needs volunteers and furniture, clothes and food.’
    • ‘He now appears at pubs and clubs across Europe and raises money for cancer charities.’
    • ‘The charity asks its volunteers for only one hour a week.’
    • ‘The charity believes helping children with their emotional problems has wider benefits for their schools and classmates.’
    • ‘Unlike in England, no firm in the private sector or millionaire-funded charity is permitted to run a school.’
    • ‘Without your support, the services that charities provide could come to an end.’
    • ‘The charity totally relies on voluntary donations.’
    • ‘More than 50 people responded to the rallying cry of a leading first aid charity to help support its increasing number of services.’
    • ‘She made all the right moves, going to college to get qualifications and then taking a voluntary job with local charity Signpost to ease herself back into employment.’
    • ‘The four year study was based in two inner London boroughs and delivered through a local voluntary sector charity.’
    • ‘The charity is looking for volunteers with financial, management and business skills, as well as doctors, nurses and teachers.’
    • ‘In the meantime he is a volunteer at the Manchester-based charity George House Trust.’
    • ‘A charity is appealing for volunteers to open up their homes to young homeless people.’
    • ‘She chose Sierra Leone from four options offered her by aid charity Voluntary Service Overseas.’
    • ‘A leading veterinary charity is calling for volunteers to come forward in Swindon to help pets in need.’
    • ‘The branch also raises money for local charities and at one stage put on shows for the local community.’
    • ‘The charity is run by volunteers who help out year after year for the three months the shop opens.’
    non-profit-making organization, non-profit organization, not-for-profit organization, voluntary organization, charitable institution
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    1. 1.1mass noun The body of organizations viewed collectively as the object of fundraising or of donations.
      ‘the proceeds of the sale will go to charity’
      • ‘At the other end of the scale, the National Garden Scheme has been opening private gardens for charity since 1927.’
      • ‘Selfish actions have nothing to do with morality - if a businessman gives money to charity because he wishes to help people in need, then he is acting morally.’
      • ‘This is a very tax-efficient way for people to give regular amounts of money to charity.’
      • ‘All the money goes to charity and what is not used to help out the less well-off at Christmas is distributed to Waterford charities, so all the money stays locally.’
      • ‘Cash will be the vital ingredient as celebrity chefs cook up a special fundraising treat for charity.’
      • ‘The event, in aid of charity, was sold out two weeks in advance.’
      • ‘There have been over a hundred performances so far, several of them as fund-raising ventures for charity.’
      • ‘I do, however, believe that they must donate more money to charity, and help the people in their country.’
      • ‘Voluntary giving to charity should become compulsory.’
      • ‘He also knows however, that however much money people donate to charity, it will not do much good on its own.’
      • ‘During those years we shared many experiences particularly when fundraising for charity.’
      • ‘They also tend to give money to charity and to volunteer.’
      • ‘He donated large sums of money to charity and established scholarship trusts to help Asian students come to Scotland to study.’
      • ‘The remarkable girl was struggling against the agony of terminal cancer but asked that for her funeral people give money to charity rather than waste it on flowers.’
      • ‘The rally, in aid of charity, begins on Boxing Day.’
      • ‘She also highlighted Valerie's work in setting up a support group and fundraising for charity.’
      • ‘Moreover, America's prime animating force comes from private people in industry and charity.’
      • ‘On the other hand, you could do something worthwhile and do some voluntary work for charity.’
      • ‘I suggest you get a summer job, or do some volunteer work for charity!’
      • ‘I am not work-shy and donate some of my time to charity on a voluntary basis.’
  • 2mass 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’
    • ‘Christians were those who behaved like Christians, and charity was the most obvious expression of religious devotion.’
    • ‘Materialism and selfishness are not exclusively godless traits any more than decency and charity are exclusively religious ones.’
    • ‘Was it deep-rooted compassion or simply fear that inspired such charity?’
    • ‘I repeated my own news, adding that I hoped he and his friends could express their Christian charity and help my friend in his time of need.’
    • ‘But something so pleasurable hardly seemed like charity.’
    • ‘During the depressions of the 1890s and 1930s this system of private charity virtually broke down.’
    • ‘His views on charity are also interesting and certainly worth a read.’
    • ‘Second, the personal connection at the heart of private charity cannot be reproduced by government.’
    • ‘In the world of private charity, the Victorian ethos is alive and well.’
    • ‘The trio had eked out a meager living through acts of charity, upholding their righteous values, even in a foreign land.’
    • ‘We will be doing a greater act of charity by helping these beggars earn a respectable living.’
    • ‘This brings us to the second statement to consider: that Ramadan is the month of kindness and charity.’
    • ‘A fourth way to provide security in a free society is by voluntary charity.’
    • ‘And often people associate charity with an organisation that runs on a shoestring, when in fact that may not be so.’
    • ‘That must have come as news to millions of Muslims observing the Ramadan traditions of charity and penitential abstinence this past month.’
    • ‘But the goodwill built up by such acts of charity is fast disappearing.’
    • ‘I just came across this paper by Gruber and Hungerman on the crowding out of private sector charity by government spending.’
    • ‘It is easy to shrug off charity and goodwill as petty and self-serving, but consideration for others is not easy and will not always come naturally.’
    • ‘Although there was supposed to be a competition going on, the students ran the tournament in the spirit of charity and fun.’
    financial assistance, aid, welfare, relief, financial relief, funding
    philanthropy, humanitarianism, humanity, altruism, public-spiritedness, social conscience, social concern, benevolence, benignity, beneficence, generosity, magnanimity, munificence, largesse
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    1. 2.1 Help or money given to those in need.
      ‘an unemployed teacher living on charity’
      • ‘They recommended private charity as a way to alleviate the sufferings of those who could not work.’
      • ‘Why can't they operate more like businesses, only with a social purpose, rather than organisations solely dependent on charity?’
      • ‘But a company cannot function on the basis of charity and kindness.’
      • ‘Neither private charity nor insurance will cover more than a fraction of the immense costs involved in reconstruction.’
      • ‘Lepers were separated in leper hospitals built with private charity because people were afraid of defilement.’
      • ‘They fear leaving because they will be at the mercy of charity and be transformed into outcasts in their communities.’
      • ‘With no money and hand-me-down charity, they still manage to look 100 times more chic and svelte than the rest of us.’
      • ‘Giving of private charity obviously has a ‘feel good’ factor to it.’
      • ‘The cuts would also unreasonably increase demands on private charity.’
      • ‘Without private charity, God knows what would have become of them.’
      • ‘Those who cannot perform work are left to private charity, which often means begging.’
      • ‘I do not ask people for donations or expect charity as I think I should be responsible and work.’
      • ‘The routine at Victoria Park recognised a basic need - that though one was living on charity it was still necessary for most people to make themselves useful in the community.’
      • ‘Moreover, state charity would shatter the voluntary relationship between giver and receiver without putting another social context in its place.’
      • ‘I never expected I'd end up living on charity.’
      • ‘In fact, the person that's sick needs our Christian charity and love and support.’
      • ‘However, Roosevelt never mentioned it in his radio address, which turned out to be a short speech devoted to the importance of private charity.’
      help, aid, assistance, succour, care, sustenance
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  • 3mass noun Kindness and tolerance in judging others.

    ‘she found it hard to look on her mother with much charity’
    • ‘The fuel to sustain such commitment is in our theology and Christ's examples of charity and justice.’
    • ‘Apparently, the principal didn't share the feeling of charity and imposed the expulsion.’
    • ‘Saints must have lived an exemplary life, displaying the virtues of prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice, as well as showing faith, hope and charity.’
    • ‘He soon became known as a man of profound faith who emphasized charity, humility, and above all, the hard labor necessary to feed one's family.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And I was stunned by the outpouring of charity and goodwill.’
    • ‘Of course, generosity, pity, charity, benevolence, or compassion may lead them to do more.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘His actions could well have Christian charity as their motive, but they do not, which has been noticed by a few discerning critics.’
    • ‘Mother Teresa throughout all her life manifested the virtues of a genuinely liberated person: Faith, hope, courage, charity.’
    • ‘This alert mother was leading her son in the practice of Christian charity.’
    • ‘He represents the best things in life - hope, faith, goodness, charity, kindness and love.’
    • ‘We think Chuckie would be welcome in a holy place because his gentle nature represented charity and compassion.’
    • ‘How will children learn about the practice of friendship and the importance of Christian charity if they do not learn in their early years?’
    • ‘Using a pastoral approach, Watson calls his readers to respond with Christian charity and love.’
    • ‘The pity he commands is closely akin to the forgiveness of Christian charity.’
    • ‘He quickly discovered that Sutasoma was authentic, that he was utterly sincere in his fearless commitment to charity, truth and compassion for the benefit of all.’
    • ‘Most of the team of school children presented their item woven around a particular theme, ranging from patriotism and love to kindness and charity.’
    • ‘The main reason why Archer can afford to look on the success of his old bandmates with such charity and indeed pride is the fact he has just released his latest solo album Flood the Tanks.’
    • ‘I hunger to see Christian charity and understanding given toward other religions.’
    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
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    1. 3.1archaic Love of humankind, typically in a Christian context.
      ‘faith, hope, and charity’
      • ‘But all this Christian charity is not welcome in a Machiavellian house-hold such as this.’
      • ‘As any good scholar of St. Augustine knows, the decisive mark of the Catholic Church is charity, not purity.’
      • ‘Crusading for them was an act of love and charity by which, like the Good Samaritan, they were aiding their neighbors in distress.’
      • ‘One example of charity comes from the Christian church.’
      • ‘They were keenly aware of their sinfulness and eager to undertake the hardships of the Crusade as a penitential act of charity and love.’
      compassion, care, caring, regard, solicitude, concern, warmth, friendliness, friendship, kindness, goodwill, sympathy, kindliness, altruism, philanthropy, unselfishness, benevolence, brotherliness, sisterliness, fellow feeling, humanity
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  • charity begins at home

    • proverb A person's first responsibility is for the needs of their own family and friends.

      • ‘They say charity begins at home, but for these two boys it started in the garage.’
      • ‘Introduce fairness into this society of ours and remember that charity begins at home.’
      • ‘Surely, everybody knows that charity begins at home.’
      • ‘I have always believed that charity begins at home.’
      • ‘It's time for the authorities to remember that charity begins at home and to encourage and support the businessmen and women who see their trade threatened.’
      • ‘If charity begins at home, it also begins at an early age.’
      • ‘As Bhisho residents we would like to remind him that it is even written in the Bible that charity begins at home.’
      • ‘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.’


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