Definition of altruism in English:



  • 1The belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.

    ‘some may choose to work with vulnerable elderly people out of altruism’
    • ‘These enlightened and evolved people believe in altruism, idealism, and activism.’
    • ‘Most health professionals are motivated by altruism and concern for patients' best interests.’
    • ‘He should have such virtues as compassion, love, generosity, and altruism.’
    • ‘Misguided though this might have been, my grandfather was motivated by altruism and a deep belief in human dignity.’
    • ‘The free sharing of information has nothing to do with altruism or a specific anti-authoritarian social vision.’
    • ‘The fans are not altogether convinced by his altruism.’
    • ‘Naturally, Asian governments are not acting out of pure altruism - even though in many cases they could get a better return on their investment at home.’
    • ‘Hiking fanatics can mix self-gratification with altruism by trekking through the wilderness for charity this weekend.’
    • ‘My grandmother, who is in an excellent state home, is of an age group who have shown a level of altruism and self-sacrifice that beggars belief.’
    • ‘The degree to which a society values altruism, known as social responsibility norms, can also have an effect.’
    • ‘Patients who take part in trials do so at least partly from altruism.’
    • ‘It can't be easy for people to leave home and come to a new place, even when the people in the new place are full of altruism and eagerness to help.’
    • ‘There have been far too many acts of generosity and altruism to list.’
    • ‘I argued at the time altruism was being discussed that there is no pure altruism.’
    • ‘The notions of duty and altruism are vital for a tolerant, healthy society.’
    • ‘It is not altruism that is at work here; it is globalisation.’
    • ‘It is as much corporate self-interest as corporate altruism.’
    • ‘It brought out the very best in people: altruism, tolerance, noble-mindedness, and openness to others.’
    • ‘Certainly no one should imagine media corporations are suddenly guided by selfless altruism.’
    • ‘Both had their critics, but none of their detractors would doubt their altruism and social commitment.’
    unselfishness, selflessness, self-sacrifice, self-denial
    consideration, compassion, kindness, goodwill, decency, nobility, public-spiritedness
    generosity, magnanimity, liberality, open-handedness, free-handedness, big-heartedness, lavishness, benevolence, beneficence, philanthropy, humanitarianism, charity, charitableness
    bounty, bounteousness
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Zoology Behavior of an animal that benefits another at its own expense.
      • ‘Although this is not biological altruism, it is very close to it.’
      • ‘A phenomenon that has been well studied in birds is altruism.’
      • ‘Yet systems of reciprocal altruism do emerge in various social species, even among us humans.’
      • ‘The book ends with an incisive analysis of animal altruism.’
      • ‘Are there any other animal examples of this type of social structure where altruism seems to play a part?’


Mid 19th century: from French altruisme, from Italian altrui somebody else from Latin alteri huic to this other.