Definitions

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

  • noun Provision of help or relief to the poor; almsgiving.
  • noun Something given to help the needy; alms.
  • noun An institution, organization, or fund established to help the needy.
  • noun Benevolence or generosity toward others or toward humanity.
  • noun Indulgence or forbearance in judging others. synonym: mercy.
  • noun Christianity The theological virtue defined as love directed first toward God but also toward oneself and one's neighbors as objects of God's love.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In New Testament usage, love, in its highest and broadest manifestation.
  • noun In a general sense, the good affections men ought to feel toward one another; good will.
  • noun Specifically Benevolence; liberality in relieving the wants of others; philanthropy.
  • noun Any act of kindness or benevolence; a good deed in behalf of another: as, it would be a charity to refrain from criticizing him.
  • noun Specifically Alms; anything bestowed gratuitously on a person or persons in need.
  • noun Liberality or allowance in judging others and their actions; a disposition inclined to favorable judgments.
  • noun A charitable institution; a foundation for the relief of a certain class of persons by alms, education, or care; especially, a hospital.
  • noun In law, a gift in trust for promoting the welfare of the community or of mankind at large, or some indefinite part of it, as an endowment for a public hospital, school, church, or library, as distinguished from a gift which, being for the benefit of particular persons, gives them a right to its enjoyment.
  • noun Synonyms Liberality, Generosity, etc. (see beneficence), indulgence, forbearance.

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

  • noun Love; universal benevolence; good will.
  • noun Liberality in judging of men and their actions; a disposition which inclines men to put the best construction on the words and actions of others.
  • noun Liberality to the poor and the suffering, to benevolent institutions, or to worthy causes; generosity.
  • noun Whatever is bestowed gratuitously on the needy or suffering for their relief; alms; any act of kindness.
  • noun A charitable institution, or a gift to create and support such an institution.
  • noun (Law) Eleemosynary appointments [grants or devises] including relief of the poor or friendless, education, religious culture, and public institutions.
  • noun (R. C. Ch.) a sisterhood of religious women engaged in works of mercy, esp. in nursing the sick; -- a popular designation. There are various orders of the Sisters of Charity.

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

  • noun archaic Christian love; representing God's love of man, man's love of God, or man's love of his fellow-men.
  • noun In general, an attitude of kindness and understanding towards others, now especially suggesting generosity.
  • noun uncountable Benevolence to others less fortunate than ourselves; the providing of goods or money to those in need.
  • noun countable The goods or money given to those in need.
  • noun countable An organization, the objective of which is to carry out a charitable purpose.

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

  • noun an institution set up to provide help to the needy
  • noun an activity or gift that benefits the public at large
  • noun a foundation created to promote the public good (not for assistance to any particular individuals)
  • noun pinnate-leaved European perennial having bright blue or white flowers
  • noun a kindly and lenient attitude toward people

Etymologies

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

[Middle English charite, from Old French, Christian love, from Latin cāritās, affection, from cārus, dear; see kā- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French charité (French: charité), from Latin caritas.

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Examples

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  • "True charity is the desire to be useful to others without thought of recompense." - Emanuel Swedenborg

    July 30, 2008