Definition of usury in US English:



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

    ‘the medieval prohibition on usury’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I think an economy should be based on thrift, on taking care of things, not on theft, usury, seduction, waste, and ruin.’
    • ‘As Mongolian incomes tended to be seasonal there was ample opportunity for usury.’
    • ‘Rent as he defined it, was an ‘immoral tax,’ paid as tribute to landlords, and was synonymous with interest, profit, usury, and tax.’
    • ‘Make no mistake, this is high-street robbery and amounts to usury in all but name!’
    • ‘Yet for hundreds of years there were denunciations of usury and severe punishments inflicted for its practice.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The loan scheme is in fact a case of state-sponsored usury, carried out at the expense of young people.’
    • ‘They also practised usury, charging an interest rate of 5 per cent a day.’
    • ‘Fighting against usury and the persecution of debtors has a long religious history as well as a social justice lineage.’
    • ‘The superpower of the ancient world was influenced both by God and by the demons of materialism, violence, self-love, fraud, and usury.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But where do you draw the line between this kind of usury and legitimate lending?’
    • ‘The Bible condemns usury in no uncertain terms.’
    • ‘This debt was created artificially, by usury, which technically is morally unlawful, which is therefore, lawfully a crime.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Although usury was theoretically forbidden, in practice it was allowed at rates of no more than ten percent per annum.’
    • ‘The chapter on usury will be of particular interest for those concerned about the church's current teaching on contraception.’
    • ‘He was litigious, speculated cannily on the property market, hoarded grain in times of shortage and may have practised usury.’
    extortionate moneylending, payday lending
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1archaic Interest at unreasonably high rates.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Deuteronomy states, ‘To a stranger you may lend upon usury: but to your brother you may not lend on usury.’’


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