noun (used with a singular or plural verb)
- money, food, or other donations given to the poor or needy; anything given as charity: The hands of the beggars were outstretched for alms.
- charitable donations of money or goods to the poor or needy
Old English ælmesse “alms, almsgiving,” from Proto-Germanic *alemosna (cf. 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), from Church Latin eleemosyna (Tertullian, 3c.), from Greek eleemosyne “pity, mercy,” in Ecclesiastical Greek “charity, alms,” from eleemon “compassionate,” from eleos “pity, mercy,” of unknown origin, perhaps imitative of cries for alms. Spelling perversion in Vulgar Latin is perhaps by influence of alimonia.