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. lleemosbne, compassion or mercy, from ileos, 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.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)