Etymology
Advertisement

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 eleēmosynē "pity, mercy," in Ecclesiastical Greek "charity, alms," from eleēmōn "compassionate," from eleos "pity, mercy," which is of unknown origin (Beekes gives it no etymology) and perhaps imitates cries of pleading. The spelling perversion in Vulgar Latin is perhaps by influence of alimonia (see alimony).

updated on September 18, 2022

Advertisement
Advertisement