Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Charity

Charity is the English vocabulary word for “kindness, tolerance, self-sacrificing love and altruism” ultimately derived from the Latin “carus” meaning “dear, valued”. Borrowed from the Greek “agapē” (“love”), the word “charity” was developed as a concept more in line with Christian ideology so as not to confuse it with amorous love between men and women. Charity also denotes a benevolent willingness to provide hand-outs to the poor or downtrodden. As a “virtue” word in Christian tradition, charity not only suggests the love of fellow man, but also the absolute love for God and Him for man. In other words, Charity is all about Christian love because it’s a theological concept. Perhaps it’s said best in 1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since charity covers a multitude of sins.” Or in 1 Corinthians 13:13 “So now faith, hope and charity abide, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” Love conquers all and absolves us of our sins, right? That’s the point. Benevolent giving, or charity from that perspective, is an important component but it’s more about self-sacrificial love and unrestricted kindness to all people that defines Charity. It’s the human spirit at its very best and, when achieved, a perfect reflection of the concept of God. These so-called “Virtue” names were popularized by the religiously austere Puritans during the Reformation and brought to the American colonies in the early 17th century. Virtue names were also at their height of fashion in the late 19th century.

All About the Baby Name – Charity



The Three energy is powerful and enthusiastic. These personalities are cheerful, full of self-expression, and often quite emotional. They have an artistic flair and "gift-of-gab" that makes them natural entertainers. Their joyfulness bubbles over, and their infectious exuberance draws a crowd. The Three personality is like a child - forever young and full of delight. They are charming, witty, and generally happy people. The Three personality lives in the "now" and has a spontaneous nature. Threes seem to live with a bright and seemingly unbreakable aura that attracts others to them. In turn, they are deeply loyal and loving to their friends and family. Luck also has a tendency to favor number Threes.



Charity was a moderately used name at the turn of the 20th century when such virtue names were still in vogue. However, the name slowly fell out of favor in the ensuing years until completely dropping off the radar in the mid-1920s. Charity would remain off the female charts for 40 straight years until her return in the late 1960s. The reappearance of Charity had nothing to do with virtuous parents this time. Rather, Charity’s revival had more to do with a Broadway musical and subsequent film adaptation called “Sweet Charity” (1969). The film starred Shirley MacLaine as Charity Hope Valentine, a dancer-for-hire looking for love. You can see by the chart below what an impact this film had on the reemergence of Charity as a girl’s name of choice. The name shot up almost 800 positions on the charts between 1969 and 1974. Charity was at the height of her popularity during the mid-1970s although the name would never achieve Top 100 status. Today, Charity has fallen back down to rare levels of usage and is no longer a thought about name. Today Charity is a name choice reserved for religiously mindful parents who still maintain an appreciation for Puritanical virtue names. And as the Bible says, charity is the greatest of them all. Besides, who wouldn’t want a name that means “generous love” for their precious baby girl? For some people, Charity is just a little too sappy and sentimental and perhaps a tad too obvious (Carissa might be a more subtle version of Charity). If a woman named Charity is anything less than charitable then you run the risk of such a name being ironic and therefore a subject of mockery. Certainly not a good choice for the cynics and pessimists out there. Having said that, Charity is an underused and widely neglected name right now; unique by today’s standards. It’s old-fashioned, up-beat and has one of the most positive etymologies we can think of. Cherry and Tee are possible nicknames.

Quick Facts













Self-sacrificing love










Cultural References to the Baby Name – Charity

Literary Characters


Charity Hope Valentine is the proverbial “bad girl” with the heart of gold in this 1966 Broadway musical, later made into a movie in 1969 (and initially based upon Federico Fellini’s 1957 movie, Nights of Cabiria). Charity is a “dance-hall hostess” who works at the Fan-dango and probably holds the world’s title for “Girl with the Worst Luck with Men”. She falls for them over and over, and they repay the kindness by duping and dumping her, over and over. For some reason, our Sweet Charity is endlessly optimistic about her romantic chances, always feeling that the right guy is just around the corner. Well, he isn’t exactly around the corner – he’s in the elevator with her when they are both stuck in mid-passage. Oscar is a jazz-loving accountant who soon declares his love for Charity. Charity finds herself falling for Oscar, but rightly suspects he might look a little askance at her profession. When she does confess, after having quit her job, Oscar assures her that it makes no difference to him whatsoever. Right. We can tell you how that worked out. Oscar pulls the same trick (no pun intended) as all the other men in her life, only without their flair or panache. After all, his name is Oscar and he is an accountant. Good riddance. Charity, of course, picks herself up and goes on her way, perhaps not quite so merrily. After all, she is sans man and job, but she is a plucky sort, and we know she’ll make it. And with a name like Charity Hope Valentine, we’re rooting for her!

Popular Songs


We cannot find any popular or well-known songs with the name of Charity

Famous People


We cannot find any celebrities or significantly famous people with the first name Charity.

Children of Famous People


We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Charity

Historic Figures


We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Charity