Good Samaritan

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The term good Samaritan dates from the 1600s. We will look at the meaning of the term good Samaritan, where it comes from and a few examples of its use in sentences.

A good Samaritan is a person who does good deeds out of compassion and not because of any hope of reward. The term good Samaritan is derived from a parable told by Jesus in the book of Luke in the New Testament. In the parable, a Jew is robbed and beaten, then left on the side of the road to die. After the injured Jew is passed up by a priest and a Levite, a man from Samaria, also known as a Samaritan, finds the Jew and helps him. This was a surprising turn of events to the audience that Jesus was telling this story to, as Jews and Samaritans did not think well of each other. The book of Luke, also known as the Gospel of Luke, was written in the first century. However, the term good Samaritan as used in a figurative sense first appears in the mid-1600s. Many states in America have Good Samaritan Laws which indemnify good Samaritans from being sued for injury caused by their attempt to help someone in an emergency situation. Note that the word Samaritan is capitalized in the term good Samaritan, as it is a proper name.


A good Samaritan helped a woman who was being beaten in a parking lot. Now he’s dead. (The Boston Herald)

A good Samaritan’s legs were severed Tuesday when he was struck by a compact sport utility vehicle as he helped a motorist whose car ran out of gas in Genoa Township. (The Livingston Daily Press & Argus)

Want to have more idioms in your arsenal? Check out some others we covered: