equity

noun
eq·​ui·​ty | \ ˈe-kwə-tē How to pronounce equity (audio) \
plural equities

Essential Meaning of equity

1 formal : fairness or justice in the way people are treated In making these decisions we should be governed by the principle of equity.
2 finance : the value of a piece of property (such as a house) after any debts that remain to be paid for it (such as the amount of a mortgage) have been subtracted We've been slowly paying off our mortgage and building up equity in our house. a home equity loan [=a loan based on the amount of equity you have in your home]
3 : a share in a company : a share of a company's stock

Full Definition of equity

1a : justice according to natural law or right specifically : freedom from bias or favoritism
b : something that is equitable
2a : the money value of a property or of an interest in a property in excess of claims or liens against it
b : the common stock of a corporation
c : a risk interest or ownership right in property
d : a right, claim, or interest existing or valid in equity
3a : a system of law originating in the English chancery and comprising a settled and formal body of legal and procedural rules and doctrines that supplement, aid, or override common and statute law and are designed to protect rights and enforce duties fixed by substantive law
b : trial or remedial justice under or by the rules and doctrines of equity
c : a body of legal doctrines and rules developed to enlarge, supplement, or override a narrow rigid system of law

Did you know?

Equity usually appears in courts of law as a term related to justice or proportional fairness, or in financial offices to property or one's share of a company. The derivative root of the noun, which gained stability in the English language during the 1300s, is Latin aequus, meaning "even," "fair," or "equal"; however, to be fair, it was introduced to English by the French, whose adaptation of the Latin was equité. The French word has clear legal connotations; it means "justice" or "rightness," and those meanings, plus a splash of "fairness," carried over to the English word equity. Noah Webster, himself a lawyer, notes the legal term equity of redemption in his 1828 dictionary defining it as "the advantage, allowed to a mortgager, of a reasonable time to redeem lands mortgaged, when the estate is of greater value than the sum for which it was mortgaged." This use led to the modern financial meanings of equity: "the value of a piece of property after any debts that remain to be paid are subtracted" and "a share in a company or of a company's stock."

Examples of equity in a Sentence

In making these decisions we should be governed by the principle of equity. We've been slowly paying off our mortgage and building up equity in our house.
Recent Examples on the Web So starts a wonderful song tribute by James Taylor which contemplates Dr. King's message of equity and unity so sorely needed today. orlandosentinel.com, 14 Jan. 2022 While part of that has to do with the communal aspect of cannabis consumption, Andersen said equity is also at play. Adam Tschorn, Los Angeles Times, 12 Jan. 2022 More than a half-dozen groups that registered and mobilized millions of voters in advance of the 2020 election opted to boycott Biden’s speech, saying the president had not done enough to advance matters of racial equity, particularly voting rights. Washington Post, 12 Jan. 2022 For all classes of equity, January on average has become a losing month. Derek Horstmeyer, WSJ, 8 Jan. 2022 Until recently, few people thought of these jobs as potential vehicles for social change, let alone possible promoters of equity. Adrian Walker, BostonGlobe.com, 7 Jan. 2022 The current testing environment -- combined with the astonishingly rapid ascent of the Omicron variant -- is once again exposing a much larger problem of health equity. Richard E. Besser, CNN, 6 Jan. 2022 This is the testing version of vaccine equity: the effort to ensure that life-saving inoculations don’t disproportionately benefit the healthiest and wealthiest people. Benjamin Mazer, The Atlantic, 3 Jan. 2022 Experts say vaccine equity is key:Will children of color get vaccinated at the rates of other kids? USA TODAY, 28 Dec. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'equity.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of equity

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for equity

Middle English equite, from Anglo-French equité, from Latin aequitat-, aequitas, from aequus equal, fair

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The first known use of equity was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near equity

equitime point

equity

equity capital

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Last Updated

19 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Equity.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/equity. Accessed 21 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for equity

equity

noun
eq·​ui·​ty | \ ˈe-kwə-tē How to pronounce equity (audio) \
plural equities

Legal Definition of equity

1a : justice according to fairness especially as distinguished from mechanical application of rules prompted by considerations of equity comity between nations, and equity require it to be paid for— F. A. Magruder
b : something that is equitable : an instance of equity the inequities produced by the system are outnumbered by the equities
2a : a system of law originating in the English chancery and comprising a settled and formal body of substantive and procedural rules and doctrines that supplement, aid, or override common and statutory law the judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this ConstitutionU.S. Constitution art. III — see also chancery — compare common law, law

Note: The courts of equity arose in England from a need to provide relief for claims that did not conform to the writ system existing in the courts of law. Originally, the courts of equity exercised great discretion in fashioning remedies. Over time, they established precedents, rules, and doctrines of their own that were distinct from those used in the courts of law. Although for a time the courts of equity rivaled the law courts in power, the law courts maintained an advantage partly as a result of forcing the equity courts to hear only those cases for which there was no adequate remedy at law. The courts of law and equity were united in England in 1873. Courts of equity also developed in the United States, but in most states and in the federal system courts of law and courts of equity have been joined. The courts apply both legal and equitable principles and offer both legal and equitable relief, although generally equitable relief is still granted when there is no adequate remedy at law.

b : the principles that developed in the courts of equity : justice in accordance with equity equity treats a devisee who procures a will by fraud as a constructive trustee— W. M. McGovern, Jr. et al. also : justice in accordance with natural law
c : a court of equity sat alone for some time in equity— O. W. Holmes, Jr.
3 : a body of doctrines and rules developed to enlarge, supplement, or override any narrow or rigid system of law
4a : a right, claim, or interest existing or valid in equity
b : the money value of a property or of an interest in property in excess of any claims or liens (as mortgage indebtedness) against it
c : a risk interest or ownership right in property specifically : the ownership interests of shareholders in a company
d : the common stock of a corporation — compare asset, debt

History and Etymology for equity

Latin aequitat- aequitas fairness, justice, from aequus equal, fair

More from Merriam-Webster on equity

Nglish: Translation of equity for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of equity for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about equity

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