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The meaning and origin of the expression: Charity begins at home

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Charity begins at home

Meaning

A proverb that expresses the overriding demands of taking care of one's family, before caring for others.

Origin

'Charity begins at home' isn't from the bible but it is so near to being so that it is reasonable to describe it as biblical. The notion that a man's family should be his foremost concern is expressed in 1 Timothy 5:8, King James Bible, 1611:

But if any prouide not for his owne, & specially for those of his owne house, hee hath denied the faith, and is worse then an infidel.

John Wyclif had expressed the same idea as early as 1382, in Of Prelates, reprinted in English Works, 1880:

Charite schuld bigyne at hem-self.

John Fletcher came very close to using the phrase in the comedy Wit without Money, circa 1625:

Charity and beating begins at home.

Sir Thomas Browne was the first to put the expression into print in the form we now use, in Religio Medici, 1642:

Charity begins at home, is the voice of the world: yet is every man his greatest enemy.