Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun in·ter·est \ˈin-t(ə-)rəst; ˈin-tə-ˌrest, -ˌtrest; ˈin-tərst\

Simple Definition of interest

  • : a feeling of wanting to learn more about something or to be involved in something

  • : a quality that attracts your attention and makes you want to learn more about something or to be involved in something

  • : something (such as a hobby) that a person enjoys learning about or doing

Full Definition of interest

  1. 1 a (1) :  right, title, or legal share in something (2) :  participation in advantage and responsibility b :  business, company

  2. 2 a :  a charge for borrowed money generally a percentage of the amount borrowed b :  the profit in goods or money that is made on invested capital c :  an excess above what is due or expected <returned the insults with interest>

  3. 3 :  advantage, benefit; also :  self-interest

  4. 4 :  special interest

  5. 5 a :  a feeling that accompanies or causes special attention to an object or class of objects :  concern b :  something that arouses such attention c :  a quality in a thing arousing interest

Examples of interest

  1. She told us about her lifelong interest in music.

  2. The kids listened to the speaker for a little while, but then lost interest.

  3. The speaker wasn't able to hold their interest.

  4. She took an active interest in the political debate.

  5. He expressed an interest in learning more about photography.

  6. The stories about his personal life add interest to the book.

  7. I thought this article might be of interest to you.

  8. We visited many places of interest on our vacation.

  9. The price of the ticket was a matter of interest to everyone.

  10. Music is one of her many interests.

Origin of interest

Middle English, probably alteration of earlier interesse, from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin, from Latin, to be between, make a difference, concern, from inter- + esse to be — more at is

First Known Use: 15th century



verb in·ter·est

Simple Definition of interest

  • : to cause (someone) to want to learn more about something or to become involved in something

  • : to persuade (someone) to have, take, or participate in (something)

Full Definition of interest

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to induce or persuade to participate or engage

  3. 2 :  to engage the attention or arouse the interest of

Examples of interest

  1. Military history doesn't really interest me.

  2. It might interest you to know that the woman in this photograph is your great-grandmother.

  3. It interested me to learn that she had once lived in California.

  4. The salesman tried to interest me in a more expensive computer.


First Known Use of interest


INTEREST Defined for Kids



noun in·ter·est \ˈin-trəst, ˈin-tə-rəst\

Definition of interest

  1. 1 :  a feeling of concern or curiosity about or desire to be involved with something <an interest in music> <We lost interest in the game.>

  2. 2 :  a quality that makes something more appealing or interesting <Personal stories add interest to the book.>

  3. 3 :  something that a person enjoys learning about or doing <Sports is one of his many interests.>

  4. 4 :  something that provides help or benefit to a person or group <It's in your interest to study.>

  5. 5 :  the money paid by a borrower for the use of borrowed money

  6. 6 :  the profit made on money that is invested

  7. 7 :  a right, title, or legal share in something <They bought out his interest in the company.>

  8. 8 interests plural :  a group financially interested in an industry or business <mining interests>



verb in·ter·est

Definition of interest


  1. 1 :  to persuade to become involved in <Can I interest you in joining us?>

  2. 2 :  to arouse and hold the concern, curiosity, or attention of <This movie doesn't interest me.>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up interest? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 13, 2016

a trying or distressing experience

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


How much does a batman (the Turkish unit of measurement) weigh?

16.96 pounds 196.5 pounds 100 pounds 2.2 pounds
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.