From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

Charity \Char"i*ty\, n.; pl. Charities. [F. charit['e] fr. L.
   caritas dearness, high regard, love, from carus dear, costly,
   loved; asin to Skr. kam to wish, love, cf. Ir. cara a friend,
   W. caru to love. Cf. Caress.]
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   1. Love; universal benevolence; good will.
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            Now abideth faith, hope, charity, three; but the
            greatest of these is charity.         --1. Cor.
                                                  xiii. 13.
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            They, at least, are little to be envied, in whose
            hearts the great charities . . . lie dead. --Ruskin.
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            With malice towards none, with charity for all.
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   2. 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.
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            The highest exercise of charity is charity towards
            the uncharitable.                     --Buckminster.
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   3. Liberality to the poor and the suffering, to benevolent
      institutions, or to worthy causes; generosity.
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            The heathen poet, in commending the charity of Dido
            to the Trojans, spake like a Christian. --Dryden.
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   4. Whatever is bestowed gratuitously on the needy or
      suffering for their relief; alms; any act of kindness.
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            She did ill then to refuse her a charity.
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   5. A charitable institution, or a gift to create and support
      such an institution; as, Lady Margaret's charity.
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   6. pl. (Law) Eleemosynary appointments [grants or devises]
      including relief of the poor or friendless, education,
      religious culture, and public institutions.
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            The charities that soothe, and heal, and bless,
            Are scattered at the feet of man like flowers.
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   Sisters of Charity (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.

   Syn: Love; benevolence; good will; affection; tenderness;
        beneficence; liberality; almsgiving.
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