What is Charity?
The word "charity" entered the English language through the Old French word "charité" which was derived from the
Originally in Latin the word caritas meant preciousness, dearness, high price. From this, in Christian theology, caritas became the standard Latin translation for the Greek word agapē, meaning an unlimited loving-kindness to all others, such as the love of God. This much wider concept is the meaning of the word charity in the Christian triplet "faith, hope and charity", and notably as used by the King James Version of the Bible in its translation of St Paul's Letter to the Corinthians. However the English word more generally used for this concept, both before and since (and by the KJV at other passages), is the more direct love.
St Paul's agapē was specifically not primarily about good works and giving to the poor. (And though I feed the poor with all my goods, and though I give my body, that I be burned, and have not love [agapē], it profiteth me nothing - 1 Cor 13:3, Geneva translation, 1560). But in English the word charity has steadily acquired this as its primary meaning since being first used in this sense in Old French at least as long ago as the year 1200.