From Middle English bounte (goodness, virtue; beauty; strength; chivalry, valour; excellence; kindness, mercy; good deed; generosity) [and other forms],[1] borrowed from Anglo-Norman bounté and Old French bonté, bontet, bunté (modern French bonté (goodness, kindness)), from Latin bonitās.[2]





bounty (countable and uncountable, plural bounties)

  1. (uncountable) Generosity; also (countable) an act of generosity.
    Synonyms: liberality, munificence, bounteousness, (all uncountable; the last obsolete) bountihood
    Antonyms: frugality, parsimony, sparingness, (all uncountable) stinginess
    • 1819, “[The Appendix to the Eighty-eighth Volume of the Monthly Review, Enlarged.] Art. XI. Histoire de France, &c.; i.e. A History of France during the Wars of Religion; by Charles Lacretelle, [] [book review]”, in The Monthly Review; or, Literary Journal, Enlarged, volume LXXXVIII, London: Printed by Strahan and Spottiswoode, []; and sold by J. Porter, successor to the late T[homas] Becket, [], →OCLC, page 536:
      [H]is [Henry I, Duke of Guise's] gifts, though conferred for the interest of his ambition, appeared always scattered with an easy bounty.
    • 1831 October 31, Mary W[ollstonecraft] Shelley, chapter VIII, in Frankenstein: Or, The Modern Prometheus (Standard Novels; IX), 3rd edition, London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, [], →OCLC, page 73:
      She embraced Elizabeth and said in a voice of half-suppressed emotion, "Farewell, sweet lady, dearest Elizabeth, my beloved and only friend; may heaven, in its bounty, bless and preserve you; may this be the last misfortune that you will ever suffer! Live, and be happy, and make others so."
    • 1903 October 12, Samuel L. Parrish, “Colonization and Civil Government in the Tropics. []”, in Year Book No. 10 of the Oneida Historical Society, at Utica, N.Y., Utica, N.Y.: Oneida Historical Society at Utica, published 1905, →OCLC, page 50:
      The enervating character of the climate, combined with the bounty of nature, which supplies the limited wants of the natives, in return for little labor, has from time immemorial produced a population within these zones essentially inefficient as compared with that of the temperate zone.
  2. (countable) Something given liberally; a gift.
    Synonyms: boon, gratuity
    • 1704 November 3, “The Charters of the Governors of the Bounty of Queen Anne, and the Rules Appointed under the Great Seal, for the Better Rule and Government of the said Corporation”, in The Return Made by the Governors of the Bounty of Queen Anne, for the Augmentation of the Maintenance of the Poor Clergy, Pursuant to an Order of the House of Lords of the 16th of April last: [...], London: Printed by John Baskett, [], published 1736, →OCLC, page 257:
      [...] We have given and granted, and by theſe Preſents for Us, Our Heirs, and Succeſſors, do give and grant unto the ſaid Governors of the Bounty of Queen ANNE, for the Augmentation of the Maintenance of the poor Clergy, hereby conſtituted, and their Succeſſors, all the Revenues of Firſt Fruits and yearly perpetual Tenths of all Dignities, Offices, Benefices, and Promotions Spiritual whatſoever, [...]
    • 1829 March, “Examination of Some Laws and Judicial Decisions in Relation to the Churches of Massachusetts”, in The Spirit of the Pilgrims, volume II, number 3, Boston, Mass.: Published by Peirce and Williams, [], →OCLC, page 130:
      That in this age of boasted liberality, of peculiar Christian effort, of enlightened intelligence, and, let us add, in this free Commonwealth, the church should not be allowed to receive, use, control, and appropriate the bounties and charities of its pious friends, which accompany their prayers for her prosperity, we confess has not a little alarmed and astonished us.
  3. (countable) A reward for some specific act, especially one given by an authority or a government.
    • 1792, George Skene Keith, “The Principles, by which All Corn Laws ought to be Regulated”, in Tracts on the Corn Laws of Great Britain, [], [Aberdeen?]: [s.n.], →OCLC, page 3:
      Let us therefore conſider ſeparately the encouraging of exportation of corn by bounties, the allowing it to be exported without any bounty, and the prohibiting it to be exported at all in certain caſes— [...] It is not for the ſake of the farmer, but for the good of the nation at large, that this bounty [for exporting corn] is granted. The idea is, that it is more adviſeable to have food raiſed at home, than to truſt to other countries for the neceſſaries of life; and the bounty is held out as a temptation to the farmer, to induce him to raiſe at leaſt a ſufficiency of corn.
    • 1822 March 5, J[ohn] C[aldwell] Calhoun, Letter from the Secretary of War, to the Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, upon the Subject of the Appropriations for the Year 1822. [] (House Document, 17th Congress, 1st session; No. 85), Washington, D.C.: Printed by Gales & Seaton, →OCLC, page 7:
      In addition to the above reservations, a number of small conditional grants were made to the descendants of Indians and white persons, forming a mixed race, [...]. Particular care was taken by the commissioners, when these grants were made, to confine the bounty of government to those alone who had claims to consideration, or their descendants, on account of services rendered, either by restraining the Indians from war, or in producing peace. [...] Particular care was taken, in agreeing to these grants, that the bounty extended to the individuals who were thus favored, should not be abused.
    • 2008, BioWare, Mass Effect (Science Fiction), Redwood City: Electronic Arts, →ISBN, →OCLC, PC, scene: Systems Alliance: Geological Survey Codex entry:
      In recent years, AGeS, the Alliance Geological Service, has offered bounties to private individuals or teams willing to perform mineralogical surveys on the frontier.
    1. (specifically) A monetary reward for capturing (or, in the past, killing) a person accused or convicted of a crime and who is at large; also, a similar reward for capturing or killing an animal which is dangerous or causing a nuisance.
      • 1910, David E. Lantz, “Natural Enemies of the Rat”, in The Rat and Its Relation to Public Health (Public Health Bulletin; no. 30), Washington, D.C.: Public Health and Marine-hospital Service of the United States, Treasury Department; Government Printing Office, →OCLC, page 169:
        Whatever may be said in favor of bounties on the larger beasts of prey, those on hawks, owls, and the smaller fur-bearing animals can not be justified. Payments of this sort should cease, and laws should be enacted to protect species which careful investigations have shown to be mainly beneficial. [...] The payment of bounties on hawks of any kind is open to the objection that officials hardly ever discriminate between the harmful and the useful kinds, even when the statutes do so. [...] The bounty on owls is still more reprehensible, since owls are a more decided check to rodent increase.
      • 2000, Shane Gooding, Bounties: The Pretty Little Killers, Lincoln, Neb.: Writers Club Press, iUniverse, →ISBN, page 76:
        In her six years as a bounty hunter she witnessed many things. Professional gunfighters who worked for hire. A U.S. Marshal who walked into a bar where five killers waited for him and strolled out a few minutes later with a warm gun in his hand and five bodies to bring back to Colorado.
      • 2003, Mahesh Rangarajan, “The Politics of Ecology: The Debate on Wildlife and People in India, 1970–95”, in Vasant K. Saberwal, Mahesh Rangarajan, editors, Battles over Nature: Science and the Politics of Conservation, Delhi: Permanent Black, →ISBN, page 205:
        Nationwide surveys showed a decline in numbers [of crocodiles] from a variety of factors including dams in rivers, killing for skins and for bounties.
      • 2013, Joey Hoffman, The Bounty Hunters, [Victoria, B.C.]: Trafford Publishing, →ISBN, page 61:
        Adam yawned. He and Matt had been drinking and talking the past few hours, mainly of the Underdog's bounty experiences.
      • 2014, Vivian Lin, James Smith, Sally Fawkes, with Priscilla Robinson and Sandy Gifford, “Health in Australia Today: Health Status, the Health-care System and the Place of Public Health”, in Public Health Practice in Australia: The Organised Effort, 2nd edition, Crows Nest, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin, →ISBN, part I (Background: The Basics), page 49:
        Many practices have long since become unnecessary or fallen from favour. For example, in the case of bubonic plague, bounties were paid to rat-catchers, who were required to kill the fleas on dead rats by dropping the rats into boiling water.
    2. (military, historical) Money paid to a person when becoming a member of the armed forces, or as a reward for some service therein.
      • 1831 March 1, “[Appendix to the Register of Debates in Congress.] Lands to Officers in the Late War.”, in Register of Debates in Congress, Comprising the Leading Debates and Incidents of the Second Session of the Twenty-first Congress: [], volume VII, Washington, D.C.: Printed and published by Gales and Seaton, →OCLC, page cxvii, column 1:
        It was in the army to which bounties were thus given to privates, that the memorialists were officers; and gallant officers the history of that war amply proves they were. If the soldiers of that army and even the heirs of those who volunteered their services for a given and short period, but who were killed or died in service, had such large recognized claims on the bounty of the nation, it is not, [...] easily to be perceived why their officers, [...] have not claims equally strong.
      • 1904 March 23, M. W. Miller, “Evidence—Burden of Proof—Joint Resolution July 1, 1902—Practice. Catherine A., Widow of Isaac P. Brown, alias Albert B. Cole.”, in John W. Bixler, editor, Decisions of the Department of the Interior in Appealed Pension and Bounty-land Claims; [], volume XIV, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, →OCLC, page 377:
        There is, in this case, not a particle of evidence tending even to show that the soldier ever received any bounty or gratuity on account of any or all of his service except $66.66, two-thirds of the amount of bounty payable under the act of July 22, 1861, [...]
  4. (countable, figuratively) An abundance or wealth.
    • 1990, Francis Edward Abernethy, “Preface: In which the Editor Discusses the Personal Legend as Part of Folklore and Sneaks in One of His Own”, in Francis Edward Abernethy, editor, The Bounty of Texas (Texas Folklore Society Publication; no. XLIX), Denton, Tex.: University of North Texas Press, →ISBN, page 1:
      The bounty of Texas consists of a state full of rich living and traditions, stretching centuries back to the Indians, through the Spanish, Mexicans, and Anglos, to all the many nationalities that moved in and then spread out through Texas and the Southwest.
    • 2001, Salman Rushdie, Fury: A Novel, London: Jonathan Cape, →ISBN, page 6:
      America insulted the rest of the planet, thought Malik Solanka in his old-fashioned way, by treating such bounty with the shoulder-shrugging casualness of the inequitably wealthy.
    • 2018 June 5, Jonah Engel Bromwich, Vanessa Friedman, Matthew Schneier, “Kate Spade, whose handbags carried women into adulthood, is dead at 55”, in The New York Times[1], New York, N.Y.: The New York Times Company, →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 6 June 2018:
      She [Kate Spade] would come to attach her name to a bounty of products, and ideas: home goods and china and towels and so much else, all of it poised atop the thin line between accessibility and luxury.

Derived terms



The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.



bounty (third-person singular simple present bounties, present participle bountying, simple past and past participle bountied)

  1. (transitive) To offer a monetary reward for the capturing or killing of.


  1. ^ bǒuntẹ̄, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 20 August 2019.
  2. ^ bounty, n.”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1887; bounty1, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

Further reading