Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


1. behaving in a way that shows you care about other people and want to help them

2. used about things that someone says or does, especially when you are thanking them

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The adjective kind comes from an Old English word ‘gecynde’. It originally meant natural or native, only taking on its current meaning in the 14th century.


Yesterday was World Kindness Day, an annual event set up by a number of NGOs and celebrated since 1998. Its purpose, as hardly needs saying, is to try and make the world a better place by celebrating and promoting acts of kindness, both individually and at an organizational level. ‘Kindness’ is derived from the adjective kind and there are a number of related words, including ‘kindly’, as well as the negative counterparts ‘unkindness’, ‘unkind’ and ‘unkindly’. The adverb ‘kindly’ has a number of meanings: in addition to ‘in a kind way’ it is also used to make requests and to show gratitude. ‘Kindly’ is also an adjective, used to describe people who behave in a kind way. The phrase ‘the milk of human kindness‘ refers to the impulse to be kind to others. Ironically perhaps it comes from the play about two of Shakespeare’s unkindest characters, the murderous Macbeths.


“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

“Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.”
(Franklin D Roosevelt)

Related words

caring, warm-hearted, benevolent

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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