- alms (n.)
- "charitable relief of the poor," especially as a religious duty, also "that which is given to relieve the poor or needy," Old English ælmesse "almsgiving, act of relieving the needy," from Proto-Germanic *alemosna (source also of Old Saxon alamosna, Old High German alamuosan, Old Norse ölmusa), an early borrowing of Vulgar Latin *alemosyna (source of Old Spanish almosna, Old French almosne, Italian limosina).
This was a variant of Church Latin eleemosyna (Tertullian, 3c.), from Greek eleemosyne "pity, mercy," in Ecclesiastical Greek "charity, alms," from eleemon "compassionate," from eleos "pity, mercy," which is of unknown origin and perhaps imitates cries of pleading. Spelling perversion in Vulgar Latin is perhaps by influence of alimonia (see alimony).