Definition for CHAR'I-TY

CHAR'I-TY, n. [Fr. charité; L. charitas, or caritas; W. cariad; Sp. caridad; Port. caridade; It. carità, caritade. Qu. Gr. χαρις. The Latin caritas is from carus, dear, costly, whence beloved, and the word was sometimes written charitas, as if from the Gr. χαρις. The Latin carus would seem to be from the verb careo, to want, as dearness arises from scarcity. Of this we have an example in the English dear, whence dearth, which shows the primary sense of dear to be scarce. But qu. the Oriental יקר. Class Gr, No. 56.]

  1. In a general sense, love, benevolence, good will; that disposition of heart which inclines men to think favorably of their fellow men, and to do them good. In a theological sense, it includes supreme love to God, and universal good will to men. – 1 Cor. xiii. Col. iii. 1 Tim. i.
  2. In a more particular sense, love, kindness, affection, tenderness, springing from natural relations; as, the charities of father, son and brother. – Milton.
  3. Liberality to the poor, consisting in alms-giving or benefactions, or in gratuitous services to relieve them in distress.
  4. Alms; whatever is bestowed gratuitously on the poor for their relief.
  5. Liberality in gifts and services to promote public objects of utility, as to found and support bible societies, missionary societies, and others.
  6. Candor; liberality in judging of men and their actions; a disposition which inclines men to think and judge favorably, and to put the best construction on words and actions which the case will admit. The highest exercise of charity, is charity toward the uncharitable. – Buckminster.
  7. Any act of kindness, or benevolence; as, the charities of life.
  8. A charitable institution. – D. Webster. Charity-school, is a school maintained by voluntary contributions for educating poor children.

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