1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Alms

ALMS, the giving of relief, and the relief given, whether in goods or money, to the poor, particularly applied to the charity bestowed under a sense of religious obligation (see Charity and Charities). The word in O. Eng. was aelmysse, and is derived through the Teutonic adaptation (cf. the modern Ger. almosen) of the Latinized form of the Gr. ἐλεημοσύνη, compassion or mercy, from ἐλεος, pity. The English word “eleemosynary,” that which is given in the way of alms, charitable, gratuitous, derives direct from the Greek. “Alms” is often, like “riches,” wrongly taken as a plural word.