Ask Difference

Usury vs. Interest — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Published on October 3, 2023
Usury refers to the unethical or illegal charging of excessive interest, while Interest is the cost of borrowing or the return on an investment.
Usury vs. Interest — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Usury and Interest

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Key Differences

Usury and Interest are financial terms linked to the lending and borrowing of money, but they convey different connotations and practices. Usury historically represents the act of charging exorbitant or excessive interest rates, particularly when such rates oppress the borrower or are considered unethical by societal or religious standards.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023
Interest, on the other hand, is a more neutral term, simply denoting the charge for borrowing money or the return on an investment. It serves as compensation to the lender or creditor for the opportunity cost of lending the money. Interest can be simple or compound, fixed or variable, but its essence remains the cost or benefit of money over time.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023
While all usurious practices involve interest, not all interest is usurious. For instance, a bank might offer a reasonable interest rate on a personal loan, benefiting both the lender and the borrower. However, if a loan shark charges a significantly higher rate intending to exploit the borrower, such practice might be termed as usury.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023
It's also noteworthy that the definition of usury has evolved over time. In some ancient cultures and religious texts, any form of interest might be labeled usurious. In modern contexts, however, usury is specifically tied to unfair or predatory lending practices, whereas interest is a standard financial tool.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

Comparison Chart

Definition

Excessive or unethical interest rates
Cost of borrowing or return on investment
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023
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Connotation

Negative, often associated with exploitation
Neutral, a standard financial term
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

Legality

Often illegal or frowned upon
Legal unless rates exceed limits set by regulations
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Oct 03, 2023

Historical Context

In some ancient contexts, any interest was considered usury
Has always been a standard component of finance
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Oct 03, 2023

Relation to Borrower

Usually detrimental
Can be beneficial or detrimental based on rate and terms
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Oct 03, 2023

Compare with Definitions

Usury

Interest charged in excess of legal or ethical limits.
The court ruled that the lenders were guilty of usury.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

The return earned on an investment.
She received regular interest from her bonds.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Usury

The act of making unethical profits from loans.
Religious texts in some traditions condemn usury.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

The financial advantage gained from an investment or loan.
The savings account yielded a yearly interest.
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Sep 26, 2023

Usury

Exorbitant interest that significantly harms the borrower.
The activist campaigned against the usury in payday loans.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

A state of curiosity or concern about or attention to something
An interest in sports.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Usury

The practice of charging unreasonably high interest rates.
Loan sharks often engage in usury.
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Sep 26, 2023

Interest

Something, such as a quality, subject, or activity, that evokes this mental state
Counts the theater among his interests.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Usury

Exploitative or predatory lending practices.
The new laws aim to protect consumers from usury.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

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.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Usury

The practice of lending money and charging the borrower interest, especially at an exorbitant or illegally high rate.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

A right, claim, or legal share
An interest in the new company.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Usury

An excessive or illegally high rate of interest charged on borrowed money.
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Sep 26, 2023

Interest

Something in which such a right, claim, or share is held
Has interests overseas.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Usury

(Archaic) Interest charged or paid on a loan.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

A person or group of persons holding such a right, claim, or share
A petroleum interest.
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Sep 26, 2023

Usury

(countable) An exorbitant rate of interest, in excess of any legal rates or at least immorally.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

Involvement with or participation in something
She has an interest in the quality of her education.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Usury

(uncountable) The practice of lending money at such rates.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

A charge for a loan, usually a percentage of the amount loaned.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Usury

The practice of lending money at interest.
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Sep 26, 2023

Interest

An excess or bonus beyond what is expected or due.
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Sep 26, 2023

Usury

Profit.
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Sep 26, 2023

Interest

An interest group.
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Sep 26, 2023

Usury

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.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

The particular cause supported by an interest group.
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Sep 26, 2023

Usury

The practice of taking interest.
Usury . . . bringeth the treasure of a realm or state into a few nds.
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Sep 26, 2023

Interest

To arouse the curiosity or hold the attention of
Your opinions interest me.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Usury

Interest in excess of a legal rate charged to a borrower for the use of money.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

To cause to become involved or concerned with
Tried to interest her in taking a walk.
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Sep 26, 2023

Usury

An exorbitant or unlawful rate of interest
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Sep 26, 2023

Interest

(Archaic) To concern or affect.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Usury

The act of lending money at an exorbitant rate of interest
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

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%.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

Any excess over and above an exact equivalent
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

(uncountable) A great attention and concern from someone or something; intellectual curiosity.
He has a lot of interest in vintage cars.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

(uncountable) Attention that is given to or received from someone or something.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

(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.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

(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.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

(uncountable) Condition or quality of exciting concern or being of importance.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

Injury, or compensation for injury; damages.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

The persons interested in any particular business or measure, taken collectively.
The iron interest;
The cotton interest
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

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.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

To be concerned with or engaged in; to affect; to concern; to excite.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

(obsolete) To cause or permit to share.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

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.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

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.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

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.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

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.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

Participation in advantage, profit, and responsibility; share; portion; part; as, an interest in a brewery; he has parted with his interest in the stocks.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

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.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

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.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

Any excess of advantage over and above an exact equivalent for what is given or rendered.
You shall have your desires with interest.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

The persons interested in any particular business or measure, taken collectively; as, the iron interest; the cotton interest.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

A sense of concern with and curiosity about someone or something;
An interest in music
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

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
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Sep 26, 2023

Interest

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
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

A fixed charge for borrowing money; usually a percentage of the amount borrowed;
How much interest do you pay on your mortgage?
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

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
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

(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
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

(usually plural) a social group whose members control some field of activity and who have common aims;
The iron interests stepped up production
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Sep 26, 2023

Interest

Excite the curiosity of; engage the interest of
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Sep 26, 2023

Interest

Be on the mind of;
I worry about the second Germanic consonant
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Sep 26, 2023

Interest

Be of importance or consequence;
This matters to me!
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Sep 26, 2023

Interest

The charge for borrowing money.
The bank offered a 5% interest rate on the loan.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

Compensation to a lender for potential risks.
The high interest was due to his poor credit score.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Interest

A sum added to the principal amount in lending or credit.
The total repayment included both the principal and the interest.
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Sep 26, 2023

Common Curiosities

Why is interest charged on loans?

Interest compensates lenders for the risk and opportunity cost of lending money.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

Can a reasonable interest rate ever be considered usury?

Historically, some cultures or religions viewed any interest as usury, but in modern contexts, usury typically refers to excessive rates.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

Can interest be beneficial?

Yes, when earned on investments or deposits, interest can be a source of income or growth.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

Is usury always a fixed percentage?

No, usury is context-dependent, and what's considered usurious in one context might not be in another.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

How can borrowers avoid usurious loans?

By researching, comparing rates, understanding local laws, and avoiding predatory lenders.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

Is all usury illegal?

Not necessarily; the legality of usury depends on local regulations and the defined limits for interest rates.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

What determines an interest rate on a loan?

Factors include creditworthiness, loan duration, economic conditions, and lender's policies.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

Was interest always accepted in financial practices?

No, various cultures and religions historically opposed any form of interest, labeling it as usury.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

Why is usury considered unethical?

It exploits vulnerable borrowers and can trap them in unmanageable debt.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

How is interest calculated?

Interest can be simple (calculated only on principal) or compound (calculated on principal and accrued interest).
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

Why is usury frowned upon?

Usury often exploits borrowers, leading to significant financial harm and perpetuating debt cycles.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

Are there controls on interest rates?

Many countries have regulations or usury laws that cap the maximum allowable interest rates.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

What's the difference between annual and monthly interest?

Annual interest is calculated yearly, while monthly interest is calculated and applied each month.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

Can interest rates be negative?

Yes, in rare economic conditions, central banks or institutions might implement negative interest rates.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at AskDifference.com, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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