Specifically, I am looking to describe a person whose only purpose is to help others, not caring about what happens to himself or herself (physically or otherwise), though without actively seeking pain.

  • 3
    The question is unclear. Do you want an adjective such as "selfless" to describe such a person? A noun such as "philanthropist"? Can you give the context in which such a word would be used?
    – MetaEd
    Aug 14 '13 at 4:10


  1. Having, exhibiting or motivated by no concern for oneself but for others; unselfish.

Also altruistic. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altruism

  • 7
    +1 for altruistic, which is probably the best choice, depending on the context. Aug 13 '13 at 19:58
  • 2
    Benevolent, charitable, self-sacrificing, compassionate, merciful, tenderhearted, giving, generous to a fault, "He'll give you the shirt off his back." There are many words and phrases from which to choose, although each one denotes/connotes various shades of meaning. Aug 13 '13 at 21:21
  • 1
    Agreed with rhetorician; context is important in choosing the best word here. Someone who truly lives for nothing other than helping others, regardless of the impact it might have on his or herself, is altruistic. Someone who is willing to periodically help others at their own expense is charitable. Someone who generally has a positive impact on society is benevolent. Also if you do not care what happens to you but do it for the benefit of your cause could make you a martyr.
    – Herr Pink
    Mar 28 '15 at 0:54

Your best bet would probably be

selfless: Having, exhibiting or motivated by no concern for oneself but for others;

Or maybe:

philanthropist: A very generous person or institution.



proceeding from or revealing generosity or nobility of mind, character, etc.: a magnanimous gesture of forgiveness.

A magnanimous person is someone whose generosity of spirit is large. A person willing to forgive an evil deed, demonstrating nobility and generosity of mind to his/her enemies.


Always thinking of what other people need or want and being careful not to upset them He was always kind and considerate.



adj. denying one's own interests in favour of those of others


Found this site while searching for the word I needed. In case it is of help to others in the future, the word I was looking for was "facilitator".


Disinterested: free of self-interest:

2 : free from selfish motive or interest (see interest entry 1) --mirriam-webster.com

Although it is perhaps more commonly used to indicate a lack of selfish bias in a decision, it is also correctly used more specifically as the word you asked for:

Different scientists from different countries made special researches and in 2013 they came to the same conclusion: we can really live longer if we start to help other disinterestedly. --livecustomwriting.com

Your works, he said, testify to the priceless value of gratuitousness and disinterested aid in a world in which profit and business seem too often the only points of reference. --linguee.com

Wealthy investors likes Kennedy and his partners try to portray themselves as disinterested parties who are trying to help the environment and our country, but they have a stake in the game. --huffpost.com


In Mahayana Buddhism, a bodhisattva is "a person who is able to reach nirvana but delays doing so through compassion for suffering beings."

Nirvana is (in Buddhism) "a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. It represents the final goal of Buddhism."

"A person whose only purpose is to help others, not caring about what happens to himself or herself (physically or otherwise)" is a bodhisattva.

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