What do you call an act of aid given out of pity? I thought "charity", but it sounds weird when I say it. The word doesn't need to imply it's done out of pity, but the meaning should be close. I don't think the word "help" works either, because it's too general.

For example:

"I am homeless, I know, but I don't need your ____."

"No, I insist."

  • 5
    “Charity”, “help” and even “pity” all work in this situation. Is there a reason why charity doesn’t work for you? It’s often used this way. – whiskeychief Aug 28 '19 at 0:37
  • It sounds odd in a conversation. Pity sounds way better for some reason. – blackbird Aug 30 '19 at 22:06

The dialogue in the question poses it in the context of somebody using the word in a haughty or arrogant manner. Rather than being thankful for an act of kindness, they are treating it as some kind of an insult or something that is beneath them to accept.

Putting the emphasis on a statement of rejection, a more pejorative form of charity, one that somebody prideful might say with a sneer, is handout.

1 : a portion of food, clothing, or money given to or as if to a beggar
// He sat on the sidewalk asking for a handout.

As in the following:

"I am homeless, I know, but I don't need your handouts."

Since it's associated more with actual begging than just general unfortunate circumstances, using the term gives the impression that the person being handed something is especially pitiable.

For somebody who rejects charity, or a kind gift, because they are feeling sorry for themself, they might well choose the word handout.


"Charity" is the exact word to use here. It was used, for example, in the Simpsons in this context.

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