Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness.
  • noun Zoology Instinctive behavior that is detrimental to the individual but favors the survival or spread of that individual's genes, as by benefiting its relatives.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A term first employed by the French philosopher Comte to denote the benevolent instincts and emotions in general, or action prompted by them: the opposite of egoism.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Recent Regard for others, both natural and moral; devotion to the interests of others; brotherly kindness; -- opposed to egoism or selfishness.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Regard for others, both natural and moral; devotion to the interests of others; brotherly kindness; – opposed to egoism or selfishness.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun the quality of unselfish concern for the welfare of others

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[French altruisme, probably from Italian altrui, someone else, from Latin alter, other; see al- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

1853, from French altruisme, coined 1830 by Auguste Comte, from autrui ("of or to others") + -isme, from Old French, from Latin alteri, dative of alter ("other"), from which also English alter. Apparently inspired by French Latin legal phrase l'autrui, from le bien, le droit d'autrui ("the good, the right of the other"). Introduced into English by George Henry Lewes in 1853, in his translation Comte’s Philosophy of the Sciences, 1, xxi.

Examples

  • This use of the term altruism makes it a very different thing from the quality or characteristic which in the West is described by this term.

    Evolution Of The Japanese, Social And Psychic

  • And (since your altruism is the primary factor in your decision making) your moral decisions stand or fall on whether you are feeling benevolent at the moment.

    Not Lovely, Lovely Ludwig Van!

  • My "altruism" is the encouragement of ethical behavior.

    A Voice from the Middle Ground

  • My "altruism" is the encouragement of ethical behavior.

    A Voice from the Middle Ground

  • For we transmuted the vernacular word "altruism" to a quite different technical sense — and then solved the technical issue, leaving the human phenomenon (for which the word was invented) quite unresolved.

    'Confusion Over Evolution': An Exchange

  • Whether or not this altruism is realistic, especially given the large amount of money that Google pays to Mozilla, I think the important message is that users become aware of what a browser is and learn that there are alternatives to Internet Explorer.

    Lifehacker Readers Ditching Internet Explorer For Google Chrome | Lifehacker Australia

  • Ultimately, it also proves the primitively atavistic nature of human beings: that altruism is an unnatural societal construct and that self-interest is the natural impulse of the human animal.

    Marshall Fine: Movie Review: Inside Job

  • Ultimately, it also proves the primitively atavistic nature of human beings: that altruism is an unnatural societal construct and that self-interest is the natural impulse of the human animal.

    Marshall Fine: Movie Review: Inside Job

  • I believe the human drive toward cooperation and altruism is far stronger than our drive to compete or relatiate, and is much more rewarded in our culture.

    Notes On Moderating A Blog

  • I believe the human drive toward cooperation and altruism is far stronger than our drive to compete or relatiate, and is much more rewarded in our culture.

    Archive 2010-03-01

Comments

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  • "I sat and thought. I had lied to the police psychiatrist in saying I was fit for work and lied to Jack Schitt in saying that I wasn't. If Goliath was interested in Hades and the Chuzzlewit manuscript, it could only be for financial gain. The Goliath Corporation was to altruism what Genghis Khan was to soft furnishings."

    - Jasper Fforde, 'The Eyre Affair'.

    October 27, 2008

  • US Railway Association, Standard Cipher Code, 1906: telegraphers' shorthand for "usual terms of agreement".

    January 19, 2013