Definition of usury in English:



  • 1The illegal action or practice of lending money at unreasonably high rates of interest.

    • ‘But where do you draw the line between this kind of usury and legitimate lending?’
    • ‘Yet for hundreds of years there were denunciations of usury and severe punishments inflicted for its practice.’
    • ‘I think an economy should be based on thrift, on taking care of things, not on theft, usury, seduction, waste, and ruin.’
    • ‘The Bible condemns usury in no uncertain terms.’
    • ‘Although usury was theoretically forbidden, in practice it was allowed at rates of no more than ten percent per annum.’
    • ‘Rent as he defined it, was an ‘immoral tax,’ paid as tribute to landlords, and was synonymous with interest, profit, usury, and tax.’
    • ‘The chapter on usury will be of particular interest for those concerned about the church's current teaching on contraception.’
    • ‘The biblical parable of the talents was the central interpretative puzzle in this regard since it appears to advocate usury and, worse still, the careful preserver loses all and the usurer gains more.’
    • ‘This debt was created artificially, by usury, which technically is morally unlawful, which is therefore, lawfully a crime.’
    • ‘The Roman Catholic church fathers took strong stands on the question of usury, which they saw as not merely excessive interest, but any injustice in trade.’
    • ‘They also practised usury, charging an interest rate of 5 per cent a day.’
    • ‘Make no mistake, this is high-street robbery and amounts to usury in all but name!’
    • ‘As Mongolian incomes tended to be seasonal there was ample opportunity for usury.’
    • ‘The superpower of the ancient world was influenced both by God and by the demons of materialism, violence, self-love, fraud, and usury.’
    • ‘The loan scheme is in fact a case of state-sponsored usury, carried out at the expense of young people.’
    • ‘He was litigious, speculated cannily on the property market, hoarded grain in times of shortage and may have practised usury.’
    • ‘We set up systems of regulation of banking on the national level and interstate trade, which naturally affect all the state levels, which regulate currency, which regulate banking, which prohibit usury.’
    • ‘We need a new Prescription for America, a regulatory structure which puts a ceiling on drug company profits the same way credit laws establish what constitutes usury.’
    • ‘Fighting against usury and the persecution of debtors has a long religious history as well as a social justice lineage.’
    extortionate moneylending, payday lending
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1archaic Interest at unreasonably high rates.
      • ‘Any moneys still due us under the old standard terms of twenty percent usury will be reduced to ten percent usury as a matter of good will.’
      • ‘And he also sought government intervention to bust the powerful trusts and take back the railroad land holdings and bring down the ‘Shylock-like’ rates of usury.’
      • ‘Deuteronomy states, ‘To a stranger you may lend upon usury: but to your brother you may not lend on usury.’’
      • ‘Of course that had to be paid, but when the amount of interest becomes usury, that is not fair, that is not just, and that's the actual situation.’


Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French usurie, or from medieval Latin usuria, from Latin usura, from usus a use (see use).