usu·​ry | \ ˈyü-zhə-rē How to pronounce usury (audio) , ˈyüzh-rē\
plural usuries

Definition of usury

1 : the lending of money with an interest charge for its use especially : the lending of money at exorbitant interest rates
2 : an unconscionable or exorbitant rate or amount of interest specifically : interest in excess of a legal rate charged to a borrower for the use of money
3 archaic : interest

Examples of usury in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

In states where usury laws cap interest rates, the company lowers its highest rate - 36 percent - to comply. Peter Whoriskey,, "Unsolicited checks can be a lifeline and an albatross," 2 July 2018 More than 12 states, including Pennsylvania, effectively prohibit traditional payday loans through criminal usury laws and statutes that cap annual interest rates, yet the industry remains robust. Jeremy Roebuck,, "Lawyer who helped top payday lenders prey on financially desperate is sentenced to 8 years in prison," 25 May 2018 America’s top marginal tax rate stayed at ninety-one per cent until 1964, and anti-usury laws kept a ceiling on interest rates until the late seventies. Caleb Crain, The New Yorker, "Is Capitalism a Threat to Democracy?," 7 May 2018 The industry argues that the advances are technically not loans — the money is paid back only if the plaintiff wins a settlement or a jury award — and are therefore exempt from state usury laws. Matthew Goldstein And Jessica Silver-greenberg, New York Times, "Prosecutors Investigate Firms That Offer Plaintiffs Early Cash," 19 Mar. 2018 The four companies are affiliated with the Habematolel Pomo tribe, which has argued that it is not governed by state laws and should not have to comply with state usury rules. Stacy Cowley, New York Times, "Consumer Watchdog’s Latest Budget Request: $0," 18 Jan. 2018 The weakest members of society should be helped to defend themselves against usury, just as poor peoples should be helped to derive real benefit from micro-credit, in order to discourage the exploitation that is possible in these two areas. Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, "Checking in on America's Newest State, Foxconnsin," 8 Feb. 2018 The federal legislation being considered includes a provision saying state usury laws wouldn’t apply to ISAs, since the agreements technically don’t charge interest. Jillian Berman, WSJ, "Students Get Tuition Aid for a Piece of Their Future," 10 Sep. 2017 The 12% annual interest rate may sound excessive, but it is actually allowed as an exception to the normal maximum rate of interest permitted in most transactions in California under the state’s usury laws. Donie Vanitzian,, "Charging interest on interest on past-due HOA accounts is a no-no," 9 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'usury.' 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 usury

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for usury

Middle English usurie, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin usuria, alteration of Latin usura, from usus, past participle of uti to use

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Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

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

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English Language Learners Definition of usury

formal + disapproving : the practice of lending money and requiring the borrower to pay a high amount of interest


usu·​ry | \ ˈyü-zhə-rē How to pronounce usury (audio) \

Legal Definition of usury

1 : the lending of money at exorbitant interest rates specifically : the crime of charging or contracting to charge an unlawfully high rate of interest
2 : a rate or amount of interest charged in usury — compare legal interest at interest sense 5

History and Etymology for usury

Medieval Latin usuria interest, lending at exorbitant interest, alteration of Latin usura use, interest (i.e., sum paid for use of money), from usus use

More from Merriam-Webster on usury

Spanish Central: Translation of usury Encyclopedia article about usury

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