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

  • adj. Of, relating to, or dependent on charity.
  • adj. Contributed as an act of charity; gratuitous. See Synonyms at benevolent.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Relating to charity, alms, or almsgiving.
  • adj. Given in charity or alms; having the nature of alms; as, eleemosynary assistance.
  • adj. Supported by charity; as, eleemosynary poor.
  • n. A beggar

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Relating to charity, alms, or almsgiving; intended for the distribution of charity.
  • adj. Given in charity or alms; having the nature of alms.
  • adj. Supported by charity.
  • n. One who subsists on charity; a dependent.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Of or pertaining to alms; derived from or provided by charity; charitable: as, an eleemosynary fund; an eleemosynary hospital.
  • Relating to charitable donations; intended for the distribution of alms, or for the use and management of donations and bequests, whether for the subsistence of the poor or for the conferring of any gratuitous benefit.
  • Dependent upon charity; receiving charitable aid or support: as, the eleemosynary poor.
  • n. One who subsists on charity; one who lives by receiving alms.

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

  • adj. generous in assistance to the poor


Medieval Latin eleēmosynārius, from Late Latin eleēmosyna, alms; see alms.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Medieval Latin eleemosynarius ("alms dispenser"), from Late Latin eleemosyna ("alms"), from Ancient Greek ἐλεημοσύνη (eleēmosynē, "alms"), from ἐλεέω (eleëō, "I have mercy"), from ἔλεος (eleos, "pity"). (Wiktionary)



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  • give heart!
    too almish?

    November 7, 2013

  • What's wrong with charitable?

    December 26, 2010

  • "Gates had started working for Rockefeller as a philanthropic adviser, but nothing limited him to eleemosynary concerns. He organized several Rockefeller business ventures..."
    —John M. Barry, The Great Influenza (NY: Penguin Books, 2004), 72

    February 11, 2009

  • Yesterday Ambrose, while picking up eleemosynary at Cuença, stumbled upon one of our whining sisterhood...

    - Lesage, The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane, tr. Smollett, bk 5 ch. 1

    September 19, 2008

  • 'An author,' says Fielding, in his introduction to 'Tom Jones,' 'ought to consider himself, not as a gentleman who gives a private or eleemosynary treat, but rather as one who keeps a public ordinary, at which all persons are welcome for their money. Men who pay for what they eat, will insist on gratifying their palates, however nice and whimsical these may prove; and if everything is not agreeable to their taste, will challenge a right to censure, to abuse, and to damn their dinner without control.'
    -- from the Preface to the Original Edition of 'The Old Curiosity Shop,' 1841

    November 12, 2007

  • This is a hell of a word. It really does take all 6 syllables.

    July 8, 2007

  • I first saw this word when researching charitable immunity in the Georgia Code.

    May 22, 2007

  • charity, alms, pity

    and a play by Lee Blessing

    April 6, 2007