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From Middle English bounte, bonte, bontie, bount, bounte, bountee, bountie, bownte, bunte, bwnte (goodness, virtue; beauty; strength; chivalry, valour; excellence; kindness, mercy; good deed; generosity),[1] borrowed from Anglo-Norman bounté and Old French bonté, bontet, bunté (modern French bonté (goodness, kindness)), from Latin bonitātem,[2] accusative singular of bonitās (goodness; excellence; benevolence, kindness; friendly conduct; virtue), from bonus (good; honest; brave; noble; kind, pleasant) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *dew- (to show favour, revere)) + -itās (variant of -tās (suffix forming nouns indicating a state of being)).



bounty (countable and uncountable, plural bounties)

  1. (uncountable) Generosity; also (countable) an act of generosity.
    Synonyms: liberality, munificence, bounteousness, bountihood (all uncountable; the last obsolete)
    Antonyms: frugality, parsimony, sparingness, stinginess (all uncountable)
    • 1819, “[The Appendix to the Eighty-eighth Volume of the Monthly Review, Enlarged.] Art. XI. Histoire de France, &c.; i.e. A History of France during the Wars of Religion; by Charles Lacretelle, [] [book review]”, in The Monthly Review; or, Literary Journal, Enlarged, volume LXXXVIII, London: Printed by Strahan and Spottiswoode, []; and sold by J. Porter, successor to the late T[homas] Becket, [], OCLC 901376714, page 536:
      [H]is [Henry I, Duke of Guise's] gifts, though conferred for the interest of his ambition, appeared always scattered with an easy bounty.
    • 1831 October 31, [Mary Shelley], chapter VIII, in Frankenstein: Or, The Modern Prometheus (Standard Novels; IX), 3rd edition, London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, [], OCLC 858441409, page 73:
      She embraced Elizabeth and said in a voice of half-suppressed emotion, "Farewell, sweet lady, dearest Elizabeth, my beloved and only friend; may heaven, in its bounty, bless and preserve you; may this be the last misfortune that you will ever suffer! Live, and be happy, and make others so."
    • 1903 October 12, Samuel L. Parrish, “Colonization and Civil Government in the Tropics. []”, in Year Book No. 10 of the Oneida Historical Society, at Utica, N.Y., Utica, N.Y.: Oneida Historical Society at Utica, published 1905, OCLC 40314158, page 50:
      The enervating character of the climate, combined with the bounty of nature, which supplies the limited wants of the natives, in return for little labor, has from time immemorial produced a population within these zones essentially inefficient as compared with that of the temperate zone.
  2. (countable) Something given liberally; a gift.
    Synonyms: boon, gratuity
    • 1704 November 3, “The Charters of the Governors of the Bounty of Queen Anne, and the Rules Appointed under the Great Seal, for the Better Rule and Government of the said Corporation”, in The Return Made by the Governors of the Bounty of Queen Anne, for the Augmentation of the Maintenance of the Poor Clergy, Pursuant to an Order of the House of Lords of the 16th of April last: [...], London: Printed by John Baskett, [], published 1736, OCLC 728284596, page 257:
      [...] We have given and granted, and by theſe Preſents for Us, Our Heirs, and Succeſſors, do give and grant unto the ſaid Governors of the Bounty of Queen ANNE, for the Augmentation of the Maintenance of the poor Clergy, hereby conſtituted, and their Succeſſors, all the Revenues of Firſt Fruits and yearly perpetual Tenths of all Dignities, Offices, Benefices, and Promotions Spiritual whatſoever, [...]
    • 1829 March, “Examination of Some Laws and Judicial Decisions in Relation to the Churches of Massachusetts”, in The Spirit of the Pilgrims, volume II, number 3, Boston, Mass.: Published by Peirce and Williams, [], OCLC 1065758585, page 130:
      That in this age of boasted liberality, of peculiar Christian effort, of enlightened intelligence, and, let us add, in this free Commonwealth, the church should not be allowed to receive, use, control, and appropriate the bounties and charities of its pious friends, which accompany their prayers for her prosperity, we confess has not a little alarmed and astonished us.
  3. (countable) A reward for some specific act, especially one given by an authority or a government.
    • 1792, George Skene Keith, “The Principles, by which All Corn Laws ought to be Regulated”, in Tracts on the Corn Laws of Great Britain, [], [Aberdeen?: s.n.], OCLC 519511472, page 3:
      Let us therefore conſider ſeparately the encouraging of exportation of corn by bounties, the allowing it to be exported without any bounty, and the prohibiting it to be exported at all in certain caſes— [...] It is not for the ſake of the farmer, but for the good of the nation at large, that this bounty [for exporting corn] is granted. The idea is, that it is more adviſeable to have food raiſed at home, than to truſt to other countries for the neceſſaries of life; and the bounty is held out as a temptation to the farmer, to induce him to raiſe at leaſt a ſufficiency of corn.
    • 1822 March 5, J[ohn] C[aldwell] Calhoun, Letter from the Secretary of War, to the Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, upon the Subject of the Appropriations for the Year 1822. [] (House Document, 17th Congress, 1st session; No. 85), Washington, D.C.: Printed by Gales & Seaton, OCLC 191258413, page 7:
      In addition to the above reservations, a number of small conditional grants were made to the descendants of Indians and white persons, forming a mixed race, [...]. Particular care was taken by the commissioners, when these grants were made, to confine the bounty of government to those alone who had claims to consideration, or their descendants, on account of services rendered, either by restraining the Indians from war, or in producing peace. [...] Particular care was taken, in agreeing to these grants, that the bounty extended to the individuals who were thus favored, should not be abused.
    1. (specifically) A monetary reward for capturing (or, in the past, killing) a person accused or convicted of a crime and who is at large; also, a similar reward for capturing or killing an animal which is dangerous or causing a nuisance.
    2. (military, historical) Money paid to a person when becoming a member of the armed forces, or as a reward for some service therein.
      • 1831 March 1, “[Appendix to the Register of Debates in Congress.] Lands to Officers in the Late War.”, in Register of Debates in Congress, Comprising the Leading Debates and Incidents of the Second Session of the Twenty-first Congress: [], volume VII, Washington, D.C.: Printed and published by Gales and Seaton, OCLC 635017932, page cxvii, column 1:
        It was in the army to which bounties were thus given to privates, that the memorialists were officers; and gallant officers the history of that war amply proves they were. If the soldiers of that army and even the heirs of those who volunteered their services for a given and short period, but who were killed or died in service, had such large recognized claims on the bounty of the nation, it is not, [...] easily to be perceived why their officers, [...] have not claims equally strong.
  4. (countable, figuratively) An abundance or wealth.

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Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


  1. ^ bǒuntẹ̄, n.” in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 20 August 2019.
  2. ^ bounty, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1887; “bounty1, n.” in Lexico,; Oxford University Press.

Further reading[edit]