Alms, n. sing. & pl.
Etym: [OE. almes, almesse, AS. Ã¦lmysse, fr. L. eleemosyna, Gr. Almonry, Eleemosynary.]
Anything given gratuitously to relieve the poor, as money, food, or clothing; a gift of charity. A devout man . . . which gave much alms to the people. Acts x. 2. Alms are but the vehicles of prayer. Dryden. Tenure by free alms. See Frankalmoign. Blackstone.
Note: This word alms is singular in its form (almesse), and is sometimes so used; as, “asked an alms.” Acts iii. 3.”Received an alms.” Shak. It is now, however, commonly a collective or plural noun. It is much used in composition, as almsgiver, almsgiving, alms bag, alms chest, etc.