11 September 2009


This wonderful O. Henry gem describes many a person in these hard times. How much better to be termed an eleemosynary than "on welfare," as the vernacular would have it.

In "The Cop and the Anthem," we meet Soapy, an itinerant denizen of the City who is beginning to feel the advent of winter. Soapy's plan for winter is to be incarcerated, rather than to avail himself of the "...endless round of institutions, municipal and eleemosynary, on which he might set out and receive lodging and food accordant with the simple life." [Links go to enotes.com. Here's a link to the entire story on that site. If you haven't read it, don't deprive yourself any longer.]

O. Henry's stories are one of the great delights of being alive and reading English. He loved words, and left us all a great gift, despite living a life that would have turned many a man to bitter self-pity.


Eleemosynary El`ee*mos"y*na*ry, n.; pl. Eleemosynaries.
One who subsists on charity; a dependent. --South. Elegance

-- From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48

Eleemosynary El`ee*mos"y*na*ry (?; 277), a. [LL.
eleemosynarius, fr. eleemosyna alms, Gr. ? alms. See Alms.]
1. Relating to charity, alms, or almsgiving; intended for the
distribution of charity; as, an eleemosynary corporation.
[1913 Webster]

2. Given in charity or alms; having the nature of alms; as,
eleemosynary assistance. "Eleemosynary cures." --Boyle.
[1913 Webster]

3. Supported by charity; as, eleemosynary poor.
[1913 Webster]

-- From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48

adj : generous in assistance to the poor; "a benevolent
contributor"; "eleemosynary relief"; "philanthropic
contributions" [syn: beneficent, benevolent, philanthropic]

-- From WordNet (r) 2.0

42 Moby Thesaurus words for "eleemosynary":
almsgiving, altruistic, beneficent, benevolent, bighearted,
charitable, complimentary, costless, expenseless, for free,
for love, for nothing, free, free as air, free for nothing,
free gratis, free of charge, free of cost, freebie, freehearted,
generous, giftlike, given, good, gratis, gratuitous, greathearted,
humane, humanitarian, largehearted, liberal, munificent,
on the house, openhanded, philanthropic, unbought, unpaid-for,
untaxed, welfare, welfare statist, welfarist, without charge

-- From Moby Thesaurus II by Grady Ward, 1.0

1 comment:

  1. That is a great word. I want to try it (along with some others that you have posted) in daily conversation. I'll probably get some odd looks...

    Out of curiosity, what are the 37 tests that you subject these words to before you allow them in your dictionary? Or were you simply being facetious?