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Kindness vs. Kindliness: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on October 9, 2023
Kindness refers to the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate, whereas kindliness implies a gentle, kind-hearted, compassionate nature, subtly highlighting warmth and tenderness.

Key Differences

Kindness often is associated with actions and behaviors that exhibit benevolence and a general disposition towards being caring and considerate towards others. It is somewhat a broad term, enveloping varied forms of generous acts, sympathetic concerns, and charitable behaviors. Kindness may be displayed through altruistic actions or demonstrating understanding and compassion towards others.
On the other hand, kindliness is akin to kindness but slightly different in tone and usage. Kindliness tends to exude a certain gentle, soft, and warm-hearted nature. It somewhat extends beyond the mere acts of kindness to incorporate a consistent, inherent nature of gentleness and warmth. Kindliness thus does not only refer to acts but also a persistent gentle disposition.
An act of kindness can be sporadic, occasional, or done without involving deeper emotional elements. For instance, a person might perform a kind act without necessarily feeling emotionally warm towards the recipient. Kindness could be transactional or performed out of duty, moral obligation, or external motivations such as societal expectations or religious beliefs.
Contrarily, kindliness conveys an inherent, continual warm-heartedness and gentleness towards others. It is less about isolated acts and more about a constant, warm, and gentle disposition. Kindliness might infer a deeper, intrinsic, and natural propensity towards being tender and benevolent. It suggests that one does not only perform kind acts but habitually exudes a warm and tender nature.
While kindness can certainly be genuine and heartfelt, it might not always imply a consistently warm disposition. Conversely, kindliness always suggests a perennial, gentle warmth in addition to benevolent actions, extending kindliness a somewhat emotive and tender connotation that kindness might not always convey.

Comparison Chart


The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.
An innate, gentle, warm-hearted, and compassionate nature.

Emotional Depth

Can be emotionally involved or detached.
Suggests an emotional, warm involvement.


Can be sporadic or occasional.
Implies a consistent, gentle nature.


Centred more on acts.
Centred more on disposition.

Use in Sentences

Often used to describe acts.
Often used to describe one’s nature.

Kindness and Kindliness Definitions


A generous act or gift.
The charity expressed gratitude for his acts of kindness.


Exhibiting gentle, compassionate actions consistently.
His consistent kindliness towards animals was heartwarming.


A pleasant and non-harmful condition.
The kindness of the weather made their outing enjoyable.


A warm and benevolent nature.
Her kindliness was manifested in her warm greetings.


The act of showing sympathy or understanding.
She showed kindness by listening to his worries.


A gentle, tender disposition.
His kindliness was felt by all through his gentle smile.


A helpful or beneficial action.
Her kindness in assisting the elderly was admirable.


Consistent friendly and generous disposition.
The lady was well-regarded for her perpetual kindliness.


A fair and considerate nature.
His kindness was evident when he helped the injured bird.


The quality or state of being kindly.


The quality or state of being kind.


A kindly deed.


An instance of kind behavior
Your kindnesses won't be forgotten.


The state of feeling kindly towards someone or something, or the actions inspired thereby.
Elmo looked upon his only granddaughter with kindliness, and often relented to her demands for chocolate.


The state of being kind.
Jamie's kindness is legendary, so much that people have taken advantage of her.


(archaic) Favourableness; mildness.


An instance of kind or charitable behaviour.
Do me a kindness and leave.
I'm going to turn a blind eye to this misdemeanour, out of the kindness of my heart.


(obsolete) Naturalness.


The state or quality of being kind, in any of its various senses; manifestation of kind feeling or disposition beneficence.
I do fear thy nature;It is too full o' the milk of human kindnessTo catch the nearest way.
Unremembered actsOf kindness and of love.


Natural inclination; natural course.


A kind act; an act of good will; as, to do a great kindness.


The quality or state of being kindly; benignity; benevolence; gentleness; tenderness; as, kindliness of disposition, of treatment, or of words.
In kind a father, but not in kindliness.


The quality of being warm-hearted and considerate and humane and sympathetic


Softness; mildness; propitiousness; as, kindliness of weather, or of a season.
Fruits and corn are much advanced by temper of the air andkindliness of seasons.


Tendency to be kind and forgiving


Friendliness evidence by a kindly and helpful disposition


A kind act


Reflecting a soft, warm demeanor.
His kindliness permeated the room, making everyone feel at ease.


Give an example sentence using "kindness".

"Her kindness towards strangers is truly admirable."

What does "kindliness" mean?

"Kindliness" refers to the quality or state of being kindly, showing benevolence or tenderness.

What is the primary definition of "kindness"?

Kindness refers to the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.

Can "kindness" be pluralized?

Generally, "kindness" is used in its singular form, but in some contexts, the plural "kindnesses" can be used to mean multiple acts of kindness.

Is "kindliness" commonly used in modern English?

It's less common than "kindness" but still understood and occasionally used.

Is "kindliness" a noun or an adjective?

"Kindliness" is a noun.

Can you provide a synonym for "kindliness"?

Yes, "benevolence" can be a synonym, depending on the context.

What is the origin of "kindness"?

It originates from the Old English word "cynd," which means "nature, type."

Is "kindness" a noun or a verb?

"Kindness" is a noun.

Are there any idioms using these words?

Yes, for "kindness," a common idiom is "kill with kindness," meaning to overwhelm or harm by being too kind.

How do you use "kindliness" in a sentence?

"The kindliness in his eyes was evident to all who met him."

What's the antonym for "kindness"?

An antonym for "kindness" is "cruelty."

Are "kindness" and "kindliness" interchangeable?

Not always. While they both refer to a quality of being kind, "kindliness" emphasizes tenderness and benevolence, whereas "kindness" is more general.

Which word is more commonly used?

"Kindness" is more commonly used in everyday speech and writing.

Can both words be used as adjectives?

No, both "kindness" and "kindliness" are nouns. However, "kindly" can be used as an adjective.

Can "kindliness" be pluralized like "kindness"?

It's less common, but "kindlinesses" can be used to denote multiple instances or examples of kindliness.

Is there a difference in tone or nuance between the two?

"Kindliness" often has a softer, more tender connotation, while "kindness" is a broader term for any friendly or considerate act.

Are there specific contexts where one word is preferred over the other?

"Kindness" is generally preferred in most contexts. "Kindliness" might be used in literary or poetic contexts to emphasize tenderness.

Is "kindly" derived from "kindness" or "kindliness"?

"Kindly" is related to both and can mean showing kindness or in a kind manner.

Does "kindliness" have a direct antonym?

There's no direct antonym, but "harshness" or "cruelty" can serve as opposites in certain contexts.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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