An endowment is a gift. It might be money given to an institution like a college. Or, an endowment might be a natural gift, say of a physical attribute or a talent. If you lack the endowment of musical talent, you could play the tambourine.

To endow means "to give or bequeath," and the background of the word endowment goes back to the 15th Century, where it was used to refer to money or property that is given to an institution. An example can be found in the National Endowment for the Arts, an organization dedicated to providing grants to fund artistic endeavors. Your natural endowments — speed, agility, endurance — make you an excellent soccer player. If only you could wake up in time for practice.

Primary Meanings of endowment

natural abilities or qualities
the capital that provides income for an institution
Full Definitions of endowment

n natural abilities or qualities

gift, natural endowment, talent
bent, hang, knack
a special way of doing something
flair, genius
a natural talent
raw talent
powerfully impressive talent
Type of:
natural ability
ability that is inherited

n the capital that provides income for an institution

endowment fund
a church endowment
an endowment for the singing of Masses
Type of:
wealth in the form of money or property owned by a person or business and human resources of economic value

n the act of endowing with a permanent source of income

“his generous endowment of the laboratory came just in the nick of time”
Type of:
gift, giving
the act of giving

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