SUBSIDY (through Fr. from Lat. subsidium, reserve troops, aid, assistance, from subsidere, literally " to sit or remain behind or in reserve "), an aid, subvention, assistance granted especially in money. The word has a particular use in economic history and practice. In English history it is the general term for a tax granted to the king by parliament, and so distinguished from those dues, such as the customs dues, which were raised by the royal prerogative; of these subsidies there were many varieties; such was the subsidy in excess of the customs on wool, leather, wine or cloth exported or imported by aliens, later extended to other articles and to native exporters and importers (see TONNAGE AND POUNDAGE); there was also the subsidy which in the 14th century took the place of the old feudal levies. Apart from this application the term, in modern times, is particularly applied to the pecuniary assistance by means of bounties, etc., given by the state to industrial undertakings (see BOUNTY). Subsidies granted by the state to literary, dramatic or other artistic institutions, societies, etc., are generally styled " subventions " (Lat. subvenire, to come to the aid of).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)