from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The practice of lending money and charging the borrower interest, especially at an exorbitant or illegally high rate.
  • n. An excessive or illegally high rate of interest charged on borrowed money.
  • n. Archaic Interest charged or paid on a loan.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An exorbitant rate of interest, in excess of any legal rates or at least immorally.
  • n. The practice of lending money at such rates.
  • n. The practice of lending money at interest.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A premium or increase paid, or stipulated to be paid, for a loan, as of money; interest.
  • n. The practice of taking interest.
  • n. Interest in excess of a legal rate charged to a borrower for the use of money.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Originally, any premium paid, or stipulated to be paid, for the use of money; interest. [Obsolete or archaic.]
  • n. An excessive or inordinate premium paid, or stipulated to be paid, for the use of money borrowed; any such premium in excess of the rate established or permitted by law, which varies locally.
  • n. The practice of lending money at interest, or of taking interest for money lent; specifically, and now almost exclusively, the practice of taking exorbitant or excessive interest; the taking of extortionate interest from the needy or extravagant.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an exorbitant or unlawful rate of interest
  • n. the act of lending money at an exorbitant rate of interest


Middle English, from Medieval Latin ūsūria, alteration of Latin ūsūra, from ūsus, use; see usual.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin usuria, from usura "lending at interest, usury" from usus 'use', from stem of uti 'to use' (Wiktionary)


  • From that time forward the term usury was restricted to excessive interest, and this alone was prohibited.

    An Introduction to the Industrial and Social History of England

  • In the Old Testament stood various texts condemning usury -- the term usury meaning any taking of interest: the law of Moses, while it allowed usury in dealing with strangers, forbade it in dealing with Jews.

    A History of the warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom

  • Watching the news today and they just had Ron Insana talking on msnbc about a report in the Wall Street Journal about how banks are now raising fees on everything and, with some banks now charging up to 29\% interest rates, he used the term usury rates.

    Experience Manifesto

  • The idea that usury is a crime runs deep in the human psyche, well back to biblical times and probably much longer.

    Archive 2007-07-01

  • Hence it is by its very nature unlawful to take payment for the use of money lent, which payment is known as usury; and just as a man is bound to restore other ill-gotten goods, so is he bound to restore the money which he has taken in usury.

    The Political Ideas of St. Thomas Aquinas

  • In like manner he commits an injustice who lends wine or wheat and asks for double payment, viz. one, the return of the thing in equal measure, the other, the price of the use, which is called usury.

    The Political Ideas of St. Thomas Aquinas

  • The writer maintains that perhaps because of his rural upbringing, Henry Ford developed a hatred for international banks and the big financial corporations of Wall Street because, to his mind, they dealt in usury, manipulated the stock market, controlled prices and were run mostly by Jews.

    Daimnation!: A few months ago, replying

  • The word usury was very odious to the Christian mind and conscience.

    Usury A Scriptural, Ethical and Economic View

  • This was the usage of the word usury by the great masters of the

    Usury A Scriptural, Ethical and Economic View

  • The word usury, in our language, has a bad signification, meaning unlawful or exorbitant interest.

    Barnes New Testament Notes


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  • i applied online for a segway loan and got a an interest rate of 21.99% from GE! that's usurious! actually, the entire capitalistic economy and society is usurious! we live in an inane world! ahhhhhh!!!!!! chaos theory now! anarchy!

    December 16, 2007