Usury vs. Interest: What's the Difference?
Usury refers to the unethical or illegal practice of charging exorbitant or excessive interest rates on loans. Interest is the cost of borrowing money, typically expressed as a percentage of the principal loan amount.
Usury is a term that denotes the practice of charging an unreasonably high or excessive interest rate on a loan, often considered unethical or illegal. It's a concept that has been historically frowned upon and regulated by laws in many jurisdictions. Interest, on the other hand, is a general term that refers to the charge for borrowing money and is an accepted and regulated financial activity. While usury is usually defined by a legal maximum, interest rates can vary depending on lender policies, market conditions, and credit risk.
From a grammatical point of view, both "usury" and "interest" primarily function as nouns in the English language. However, the word "interest" can also function as a verb, meaning to engage or attract someone’s attention, while "usury" remains solely a noun. The plural forms of these terms are "usuries" and "interests," but the latter is more commonly used in its plural form to discuss multiple kinds or forms of interest, such as compound and simple interest.
In many religious and historical contexts, usury has been viewed as immoral or sinful. Interest, however, is often considered a standard part of modern finance, necessary for the functioning of the banking system. Usury is often a term subjected to legal interpretation, and what constitutes usury may differ from one jurisdiction to another. Interest rates, however, are often set by central banks or market conditions and can be negotiated between lender and borrower.
Usury is specifically linked to predatory lending practices and often involves exploiting the borrower's lack of options or understanding. Interest, in contrast, is considered a neutral term and represents a fundamental aspect of lending and borrowing. It's essential for borrowers to understand the difference: paying interest is standard when borrowing money, but being subjected to usury is generally illegal and unethical.
Excessive or illegal interest rate
Cost of borrowing money
Legal and regulated
Part of Speech
Primarily a noun
Noun, can also be a verb
Moral and Ethical Connotations
Usury and Interest Definitions
Unethical high-interest lending.
The loan shark was arrested for usury.
Capital gain on investments.
She earned interest from her stock portfolio.
Immoral loan agreement.
The court ruled the contract was void due to usury.
A share or right in something.
He has an interest in the family business.
Excessive interest rates.
Usury laws limit how much interest can be charged.
To engage or attract attention.
The movie trailer interested me.
Illegal lending practices.
The unlicensed lender was accused of usury.
A state of curiosity or concern about or attention to something
An interest in sports.
Charging 50% interest is considered usury.
Something, such as a quality, subject, or activity, that evokes this mental state
Counts the theater among his interests.
The practice of lending money and charging the borrower interest, especially at an exorbitant or illegally high rate.
Often interests Regard for one's own benefit or advantage; self-interest
It is in your best interest to cooperate. She kept her own interests in mind.
An excessive or illegally high rate of interest charged on borrowed money.
A right, claim, or legal share
An interest in the new company.
(Archaic) Interest charged or paid on a loan.
Something in which such a right, claim, or share is held
Has interests overseas.
(countable) An exorbitant rate of interest, in excess of any legal rates or at least immorally.
A person or group of persons holding such a right, claim, or share
A petroleum interest.
(uncountable) The practice of lending money at such rates.
Involvement with or participation in something
She has an interest in the quality of her education.
The practice of lending money at interest.
A charge for a loan, usually a percentage of the amount loaned.
An excess or bonus beyond what is expected or due.
A premium or increase paid, or stipulated to be paid, for a loan, as of money; interest.
Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of anything that is lent upon usury.
Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchanges, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
What he borrows from the ancients, he repays with usury of is own.
An interest group.
The practice of taking interest.
Usury . . . bringeth the treasure of a realm or state into a few nds.
The particular cause supported by an interest group.
Interest in excess of a legal rate charged to a borrower for the use of money.
To arouse the curiosity or hold the attention of
Your opinions interest me.
An exorbitant or unlawful rate of interest
To cause to become involved or concerned with
Tried to interest her in taking a walk.
The act of lending money at an exorbitant rate of interest
(Archaic) To concern or affect.
The price paid for obtaining, or price received for providing, money or goods in a credit transaction, calculated as a fraction of the amount or value of what was borrowed.
Our bank offers borrowers an annual interest of 5%.
Any excess over and above an exact equivalent
(uncountable) A great attention and concern from someone or something; intellectual curiosity.
He has a lot of interest in vintage cars.
(uncountable) Attention that is given to or received from someone or something.
(countable) An involvement, claim, right, share, stake in or link with a financial, business, or other undertaking or endeavor.
When scientists and doctors write articles and when politicians run for office, they are required in many countries to declare any existing conflicts of interest.
I have business interests in South Africa.
She has an interest in the proceedings, and all stakeholders' interests must be protected.
(countable) Something or someone one is interested in.
Lexicography is one of my interests.
Victorian furniture is an interest of mine.
The main character's romantic interest will be played by a non-professional actor.
(uncountable) Condition or quality of exciting concern or being of importance.
Injury, or compensation for injury; damages.
The persons interested in any particular business or measure, taken collectively.
The iron interest;
The cotton interest
To engage the attention of; to awaken interest in; to excite emotion or passion in, in behalf of a person or thing.
It might interest you to learn that others have already tried that approach.
Action films don't really interest me.
To be concerned with or engaged in; to affect; to concern; to excite.
(obsolete) To cause or permit to share.
To engage the attention of; to awaken interest in; to excite emotion or passion in, in behalf of a person or thing; as, the subject did not interest him; to interest one in charitable work.
To love our native country . . . to be interested in its concerns is natural to all men.
A goddess who used to interest herself in marriages.
To be concerned with or engaged in; to affect; to concern; to excite; - often used impersonally.
Or rather, gracious sir,Create me to this glory, since my causeDoth interest this fair quarrel.
To cause or permit to share.
The mystical communion of all faithful men is such as maketh every one to be interested in those precious blessings which any one of them receiveth at God's hands.
Excitement of feeling, whether pleasant or painful, accompanying special attention to some object; concern; a desire to learn more about a topic or engage often in an activity.
So much interest have I in thy sorrow.
Participation in advantage, profit, and responsibility; share; portion; part; as, an interest in a brewery; he has parted with his interest in the stocks.
Advantage, personal or general; good, regarded as a selfish benefit; profit; benefit.
Divisions hinder the common interest and public good.
When interest calls of all her sneaking train.
A fee paid for the use of money; a fee paid for a loan; - usually reckoned as a percentage; as, interest at five per cent per annum on ten thousand dollars.
They have told their money, and let outTheir coin upon large interest.
Any excess of advantage over and above an exact equivalent for what is given or rendered.
You shall have your desires with interest.
The persons interested in any particular business or measure, taken collectively; as, the iron interest; the cotton interest.
A sense of concern with and curiosity about someone or something;
An interest in music
The power of attracting or holding one's interest (because it is unusual or exciting etc.);
They said nothing of great interest
Primary colors can add interest to a room
A reason for wanting something done;
For your sake
Died for the sake of his country
In the interest of safety
In the common interest
A fixed charge for borrowing money; usually a percentage of the amount borrowed;
How much interest do you pay on your mortgage?
A diversion that occupies one's time and thoughts (usually pleasantly);
Sailing is her favorite pastime
His main pastime is gambling
He counts reading among his interests
They criticized the boy for his limited pursuits
(law) a right or legal share of something; a financial involvement with something;
They have interests all over the world
A stake in the company's future
(usually plural) a social group whose members control some field of activity and who have common aims;
The iron interests stepped up production
Excite the curiosity of; engage the interest of
Be on the mind of;
I worry about the second Germanic consonant
Be of importance or consequence;
This matters to me!
Cost of borrowing money.
The interest rate on the loan was 5%.
Emotional or intellectual engagement.
The book held my interest until the end.
How do Usury and Interest differ?
Usury is excessive or illegal interest, while interest is a standard financial charge.
Is Usury always illegal?
Usury is often illegal, depending on jurisdiction and the rate charged.
What is Interest?
Interest is the cost of borrowing money, generally expressed as a percentage.
What's the plural of Interest?
The plural form is "interests."
Can Interest rates be negotiated?
Interest rates can often be negotiated between the lender and borrower.
Is Interest ever unethical?
Interest can be considered unethical if it crosses into usurious territory.
Is Usury subjective?
Usury can be subjective and is often defined by legal or ethical standards.
What is Usury?
Usury is the illegal or unethical charging of excessive interest rates on loans.
Is Interest always legal?
Interest is generally legal but may become usurious if it exceeds legal limits.
Can Usury be unintentional?
Unintentional usury is possible if one is unaware of legal interest rate caps.
What's the plural of Usury?
The plural form is "usuries."
Can Usury affect credit score?
Being a victim of usury won't directly affect your credit score but can lead to financial hardship.
Do all religions view Usury negatively?
Many religions frown upon usury, viewing it as exploitative.
Is Usury a modern concept?
Usury has historical and religious roots and is not just a modern concept.
Does Interest serve a purpose?
Interest compensates lenders for the risk and opportunity cost of lending money.
Written bySawaira Riaz
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