• I would describe this person or entity as "feeling entitled" by that doesn't exactly capture what I am trying to say.

  • For example: A person who donates a lot of money to some charity gets 'special treatment' from society (or some governing body). As a result this person is able to 'get away with' doing something bad like demolishing a nature sanctuary or treating their employees extremely poorly. Society (or some governing body) turns the other cheek and lets them do bad things just because they have been charitable.

  • I want to use it in a sentence as a statement to say something like "This person's charity does not <insert word I'm looking for here> their greed."

    • Once again "entitle" somewhat fits here but it's not exactly right because I am trying to capture the fact that they are 'getting away with something' only because they have been charitable (or even falsely charitable to be in such a position).


  • Maybe the word I'm looking for could also be a noun to describe someone who does good deeds, but with a hidden agenda. So the good deeds are only done so they can be in a position to do bad things later and get away with it.


  • Wow, thanks everyone for all the feedback! A lot of good suggestions coming in. I realize now that a Noun, what this person or entity could actually referred to as, would be best. But all the verb suggestions have been great. Absolve, excuse, justify, sanctify, and a few others fit for my example sentence, but I want to leave the question open a little longer to see if anyone can think of a Noun for this person/entity.
    • Example: "Mr. Rogers has donated millions to xyz charity all so that people would think he was a good guy. It's a shame he did all that just to get the permits to tear down the orphanage. Mr. Rogers is a <insert word here>."
      • I think "swindler" is a good word here but not sure if there is a better word to capture that this was all premeditated and false charity.
  • 5
    The question in your title requests a word to describe this person (e.g., privileged), but your example is set up for a verb that justifies or balances their nature or actions (e.g., excuse). Entitle(d) may work for both, but this may be the exception.
    – DjinTonic
    Commented Dec 5, 2021 at 19:48
  • Thanks for pointing that out. You are right. I wasn't sure how to say it in the title succinctly. My example, is just that, an example. If there is such a noun that exists that I do not know about that would probably be better, but the only way I could describe what I was trying to say was in the context of a verb... hopefully that makes sense.
    – BitWrecker
    Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 2:30
  • You can describe such a person as holier than thou. Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 4:41
  • 4
    Re the question edit: an adjective could be untouchable. "As it 'appens", there was a well-known British person who was involved in charity work and broadcasting, who was known "on the inside" to be a sex predator but, for some time, was untouchable. His public life allowed access to his victims, and to get away with it. Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 12:40
  • @aparente001 you could, but it wouldn't really convey OP's intended meaning.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 12:58

16 Answers 16


The OP is now also asking for a noun that would fit the following text:

Mr. Rogers has donated millions to xyz charity all so that people would think he was a good guy. It's a shame he did all that just to get the permits to tear down the orphanage. Mr. Rogers is a ___________.

One word that would fit here is a whited sepulcher:

a person inwardly corrupt or wicked but outwardly or professedly virtuous or holy

This expression originally comes from the King James Version of the New Testament (Matt 23:27):

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

A sepulchre in this context is a room or monument, cut in rock or built of stone, in which a dead body is laid or buried. (The Free Dictionary)

Newer translations tend to render the phrase as whitewashed tombs (see here). For example, here is how the full passage appears in the New International Version:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.

Some examples of usage:

Old Muslin D. Lane, who smiles and smirks and bows to and fawns upon his customers, and grinds his clerks into the dust; who hands My Lady to her carriage with gracious, grinning suavity, and grinds the noses of his employees; who irritates, goads and worries his clerks with regulations as petty as they are tyrannical; who exacts constant , unremitting toil to the uttermost second, alike in rain and sunshine. in a store full of customers and a store empty; who pays a man well for doing woman's work, and pays a woman a pittance for doing the same; who plays petty tyrant over the slaves of his counter—he is a whited sepulchre, and his sepulchre is full of those who will confront him at the Great Assize.
G. P. Upton, Letters of Peregrine Pickle (1869) (source)

Property is a whited sepulchre, healthy seeming without, rotten with loss of function within.
E. F. M. Durbin, The Politics of Democratic Socialism: An Essay on Social Policy (1940) (source)

The income of this family was derived mostly from the hire of their slaves, about one hundred in number. Their luxuries were blood-bought luxuries indeed. And yet what stranger would ever have inferred their cruelties from the courteous reception and bland manners of the parlor. Every thing cruel and revolting is carefully concealed from strangers, especially those from the north. Take an instance. I have known the master and mistress of a family send to their friends to borrow servants to wait on company, because their own slaves had been so cruelly flogged in the work house, that they could not walk without limping at every step, and their putrified flesh emitted such an intolerable smell that they were not fit to be in the presence of company. How can northerners know these things when they are hospitably received at southern tables and firesides? I repeat it, no one who has not been an integral part of a slaveholding community can have any idea of its abominations. It is a whited sepulchre, full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.
T. D. Weld, A. Grimké, and S. Grimké, American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses (1839) (source)

"Are you referring to the gentleman who has just been kind enough to come and see me? That is Mr. Townsend."
"Then Mr. Townsend is a thing of evil—he is!" He held up his forefinger to me with a warning gesture. I did not interrupt. "When I came near him I knew him for what he was. I saw right through. He is a whited sepulchre. I saw the blood gleaming on his hand."

R. Marsh, The Crime and the Criminal (1899) (source)


I would say "Absolve" is the word that best fits the example sentence

This person's charity does not absolve their greed.

it's originally a religious term, as in having ones sins absolved.

However it looks like that's only one aspect of what you're asking for as the comments have pointed out.

You might also say that the person is two-faced, insincere, conniving, false, sly, or has a veneer of charity to cover ulterior motives

  • 4
    While I like this word choice, I would not use "absolve" by itself. "This person's charity [or "good works"] does [do] not absolve him of his greed [or "bad behavior"]." This seems more flexible and more easily comprehended to me.
    – Wastrel
    Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 15:35
  • 2
    @Wastrel there is at least some precedent for the deed/vice being absolved (though it does seem more common for the person or other entity to be absolved) nytimes.com/2010/08/01/opinion/01stockman.html
    – stannius
    Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 21:45
  • justify/absolve/excuse
    – deed02392
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 13:05
  • Absolve works nicely here, but it doesn't have anything to do with permission, as in the OP's question. Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 1:53

In the particular sentence you gave,

This person's charity does not ________ their greed.

the usual phrases would be excuse or make up for. There are many other possibilities: offset, compensate for, counterbalance, countervail, outweigh, atone for, redress, cancel out, recompense, and many others.

  • 4
    Excuse would be my first thought
    – Dragonel
    Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 16:46
  • It's a shame your answer isn't just "excuse"
    – minseong
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 0:00
  • Excuse is the best answer.
    – Tony Ennis
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 21:55
  • take away : ablate
    – Mazura
    Commented Nov 30, 2022 at 18:38

Besides the good list of words in linguisticum's answer, maybe license would fit:

license verb
transitive verb
2 : to give permission or consent to : allow
Source: Merriam-Webster


This person's charity does not license their greed.

As for the noun request, if there's an element of sneakiness involved, a wolf in sheep's clothing might fit.


A good deed and a bad deed might cancel out. People who let them get away with one bad deed are giving them a pass. Metaphors include a mulligan (illegally pretending your first shot didn’t count in golf) or a get out of jail free card from Monopoly.

In religion, this might be called a dispensation if done in advance, an indulgence if done afterwards or penance if the good deed is assigned as punishment for the sin. In law, this could be a pardon.

Less formally, this could be a freebie, if we think of the punishment as a cost someone doesn’t have to pay.

  • 1
    In neo-latin languages indulgence is exactly what the OP want! en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indulgence. In the middle ages it worked like a charm. Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 3:20
  • "Pardon" in common language, too, simply meaning exactly the same as "excuse" (as in "pardon me"/"excuse me"). Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 19:03
  • Is there a word for a person who is given dispensations? Because that may be exactly what I am trying to describe.
    – BitWrecker
    Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 15:20
  • @BitWrecker The Catholic Church calls the person asking for a dispensation a petitioner or supplicant, although that connotes humbly asking for permission. Someone who receives it is the beneficiary or recipient of the dispensation. Informally, you might say dispensee, although this word is not in the dictionary. The broader word grantee is.
    – Davislor
    Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 21:08

"This person's charity does not mitigate their greed."


1.a. transitive. To alleviate or give relief from (an illness or symptom, pain, suffering, sorrow, etc.); to lessen the trouble caused by (an evil or difficulty).

1759 W. Robertson Hist. Scotl. i, in Hist. Wks. (1813) I. 29 Princes of greater abilities were content to mitigate evils which they could not cure.

1895 R. L. Douglas in Bookman Oct. 23/1 The king..does his best..to mitigate the disastrous effects of the blunders of his middle life.

1967 Martindale's Extra Pharmacopoeia (ed. 25) 783/1 Symptoms of morphine withdrawal in addicts may also be mitigated by methadone substitution.


Although not a single word, I believe you can use "free pass", as one of its meanings is the following, according to Cambridge English Dictionary:

[ S ] complete freedom to do something:

  • Just because you're famous, you don't get a free pass to break the law.
  • 1
    I could see "carte blanche" being used here in a similar way. Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 13:41

redeem :)

verb: compensate for the faults or bad aspects of.

If we're using a single word to fill in the gap and convey the context given, I'd personally go with redeem. Of course, your opinion might differ, but in my mind I interpret similar context from an example like: "Sure, Jimmy might be a little aggressive from time to time... But hey, he's got some redeeming qualities! You can't deny he's not a charitable guy." While it's not stated directly, I feel like this implies that the speaker (and likely society as a whole) naturally overlooks Jimmy's flaws in favour of his unrelated good deeds... Jimmy's charisma and beautiful eyes won't allure us though. After all, "this person's charity does not redeem their greed". Haha.

I'll do my best to avoid repeating previous responses. I'm assuming (when required) that negating them with 'not' to fit the sentence is acceptable. Here's some more one-word answers that I would also be very tempted to use, particularly these first two:

  • exempt

verb: free (a person or organisation) from an obligation or liability imposed on others. "they were exempted from paying the tax"

  • rectify

verb: put right; correct. "mistakes made now cannot be rectified later"

The following words do fit the theme, but probably not the context quite as well: negate, nullify, void, precede (as in outrank), acquit (typically in law), exonerate (official term).

To cheat and to suggest multi-word answers, I think "immunity" fits this pretty well; like 'diplomatic immunity'. "This person's charity does not grant them immunity from their greed". Protect [from] is similar. This also reminds me of pardon, which was an answer I really liked. :)

Hope this helps! Cheers.


One word which can be used in your context perfectly but has a much broader implication is ameliorate.

According to Merriam-Webster:

to make (something, such as a problem) better, less painful, etc.

Ameliorate refers to not just a person's actions about it also applies to things as well.

While it does make sense in the context: This person's charity does not ameliorate their greed.

It doesn't mean that the person, place, or thing ameliorating is permitted by society to do something wrong.

  • My favorite choice! I believe there is a word from the old testament that is on the tip of my tongue... just out of reach...
    – Dan B
    Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 21:39

Forgiveness could be used in this way, as it implies allowing someone to get away with something without consequence.

In your sample:

"This person's charity does not forgive their greed."

And the inverse:

"This person's charity forgives their greed."

  • justifies
  • overshadows
  • outweighs
  • offsets
  • absolves

Like you, I feel there is a better word to be found, perhaps some reference to the "greater good"..


Perhaps the words 'latitude' or 'license' could be of service, as in the phrase "to grant latitude/license". In the sense in which they mean to have the freedom or permission do something, they quite often used with verbs like 'give' or 'grant' to give the idea of something being bestowed by other(s). The specific element of latitude being given to act selfishly/callously is maybe a bit lost, admittedly, but they can be used to make turns of phrase that I personally quite like in the example sentence.

"This person's charity does not grant license to their greed."

"This person's charity does not grant latitude to their greed."

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    – Community Bot
    Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 1:21

Can the verb justify help in this context? This person's charity does not justify their greed.

  • 1
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    – Community Bot
    Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 4:47


This person’s charity doesn’t sanctify their greed.

“Sanctify” is defined as: set apart as or declare holy; consecrate.

Note that this choice of word is somewhat hyperbolic, but I think it expresses what you want to say nevertheless.

This person’s charity doesn’t justify their greed.

“Justify” is defined as: show or prove to be right or reasonable.

This person’s charity doesn’t excuse their greed.

This is probably the simplest way of the three to say it, but perhaps the most accurate given the definition of “excuse”: seek to lessen the blame attaching to (a fault or offence); try to justify.

  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 13:07

How about excuse?

From Merriam-Webster, definition 4: to serve as an excuse for

"His history of charity work does not excuse his greed."


Its hard to capture the concept -permitted by society- but my choice in this situation would be 'belied' meaning:

(of an appearance) fail to give a true notion or impression of (something); disguise or contradict.

"his lively, alert manner belied his years"

Such as

Rupert's much publicized charitable donations belied years of defrauding the federal government.

Which I would read as

Rupert was well known for his charitable donations; however, it was not obvious that he had been defrauding the federal government for a long time


Sugarcoat could fit your needs.

To make (something difficult or distasteful) appear more pleasant or acceptable.

"This person's charity does not sugarcoat their greed."

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