English Synonyms and Antonyms
According to the etymology and original usage, beneficence is the doing well, benevolence the wishing or willing well to others; but benevolence has come to include beneficence, and to displace it. We should not now speak of benevolence which did not help, unless where there was no power to help; even then we should rather say good-will or sympathy. Charity, which originally meant the purest love for God and man (as in 1 Cor. xiii), is now almost universally applied to some form of almsgiving, and is much more limited in meaning than benevolence. Benignity suggests some occult power of blessing, such as was formerly ascribed to the stars; we may say a good man has an air of benignity. Kindness and tenderness are personal; benevolence and charity are general. Kindness extends to all sentient beings, whether men or animals, in prosperity or in distress. Tenderness especially goes out toward the young, feeble, and needy, or even to the dead. Humanity is so much kindness and tenderness toward man or beast as it would be inhuman not to have; we say of some act of care or kindness, "common humanity requires it." Generosity is self-forgetful kindness in disposition or action; it includes much besides giving; as, the generosity of forgiveness. Bounty applies to ample giving, which on a larger scale is expressed by munificence. Liberality indicates broad, genial kindly views, whether manifested in gifts or otherwise. We speak of the bounty of a generous host, the liberality or munificence of the founder of a college, or of the liberality of a theologian toward the holders of conflicting beliefs. Philanthropy applies to wide schemes for human welfare, often, but not always, involving large expenditures in charity or benevolence. Compare MERCY.
Benevolence of, on the part of, or from the wealthy, to or toward the poor.
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