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  1. a relentless and revengeful moneylender in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice.
  2. a hard-hearted moneylender.
verb (used without object)
  1. (lowercase) to lend money at extortionate rates of interest.
Related formsShy·lock·i·an, adjectiveShy·lock·y, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for shylock

Historical Examples

  • The play went on—Shylock appeared—I forgot every thing but him.

    Tales And Novels, Volume 9 (of 10)

    Maria Edgeworth

  • But he was as unlike to Shylock as it is possible to conceive.

  • The landlord threw up his arms like Shylock at the loss of his money-bags.

    The Strollers

    Frederic S. Isham

  • Besides, there is a dash of Shylock in every Jew that ever breathed.

  • Then she said to Shylock, "Be merciful: take the money, and bid me tear the bond."

    Tales from Shakespeare

    Charles Lamb and Mary Lamb

British Dictionary definitions for shylock


  1. a heartless or demanding creditor

Word Origin

C19: after Shylock, the name of the heartless usurer in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice (1596)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for shylock



"usurer, merciless creditor," 1786, from Jewish money-lender character in Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" (c.1596).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

shylock in Culture


The merciless moneylender in The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare. He demands a pound of flesh (see also pound of flesh) from the title character of the play after the merchant defaults on his debt.


Shylock is a Jew (see also Jews), and there has long been controversy over whether Shakespeare's portrayal of Shylock contributes to prejudice against Jews. Shylock is a cruel miser and eventually is heavily fined and disgraced, but he maintains his dignity. At one point in the play, he makes a famous, eloquent assertion that his desire for revenge is the same desire that a Christian would feel in his place. “I am a Jew,” says Shylock. “Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions?”
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.