Posted by: janecronin | January 5, 2013


Many British people living in the Mediterranean part of Spain are involved in charity work of various kinds.  Sometimes when explaining their activities in Spanish they mistranslate it as “caridad”.  The Spanish word “caridad” refers to the Christian moral quality (as in faith, hope and charity) and is not the correct word to use for organized activities.  A “charitable cause” in Spanish is “una causa benéfica” and a charitable organization “una sociedad benéfica” or “una asociación benéfica” which many expats find a bit of a mouthful to pronounce.  Another word the Spanish are using more and more these days is “solidaridad”.  This word has the additional benefit of expressing a “horizontal” rather than “vertical” action.  In other words, “solidaridad” sounds as though you’re helping your neighbour, someone who would do the same for you if circumstances were reversed, rather than anything that evokes images of “lady bountiful” doing charitable works from a superior to an inferior level.  I don’t mean to imply that this is anyone’s intention, but words and how they sound to others are all important.


  1. Charity – having read your definitions, I guess they may even know the saying we Brits are famous for saying – `Charity begins at home´ would be interesting to know Jane

  2. Hi Sheila, it looks as though the most common one is “La caridad bien entendida empieza por uno mismo”. I’ve found another one – “La buena lavandera, su camisa la primera” – The good washerwoman (washes) her own shirt first. In both cases they seem to refer to not being hypocritical (as in practise what you preach) rather than the literal meaning we sometimes give the English phrase.

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