noun, plural eq·ui·ties.

Origin of equity

1275–1325; Middle English equite < Latin aequitās. See equi-, -ty2

Word story

Equity is a great example of a word that started out with a general sense that developed more specific senses over time, while still retaining the original meaning. The very first meanings of equity in English were a direct translation from the original Old French equité, a word whose Latin root means “even,” “just,” and “equal.”
It was not until the late 16th century that a new meaning—one that placed equity in the arena of law—emerged. Perhaps because many of the usages of equity involved legal disputes over rights and claims of ownership, by the turn of the 20th century, the word started being used in another sector: finance. It was at this point that terms such as “home equity” and “equity loan” became common finance terms. At the same time, equity started popping up in terms of stock and asset ownership.
In 1913, a small group of actors founded the labor union, Actors’ Equity Association—proof that the original sense of equity was still very much alive. This union, often referred to simply as “Equity” (with a capital E), fights for the rights of actors in the spirit of equity’s Latin roots.
Related Quotations
  • "Made a judge, and the judge of an adored woman, he found in his soul the equity of a judge as well as the inflexibility."
    -Honoré de Balzac transl. by Katharine Prescott Wormeley Farragus: Chief of the Dévorants (1895)
  • "[H]ome equity borrowing has enormous disadvantages. Home, sweet home is the collateral. If you fall behind on payments, the bank could take it."
    -Mark Green, Nancy Youman The Consumer Bible: 1001 Ways to Shop Smart (1998)
  • "Equity represents ownership in the firm and consists of retained profits and shares issued either privately or through a stock market."
    -Robert Y. Redlinger, Per Dannemand Andersen, Poul Erik Morthorst Wind Energy in the 21st Century (2002)
  • "Equity insisted that striking actors be allowed to return to the positions they held at the time of the walkout."
    -Matthew Kennedy Marie Dressler: a A Biography (1999)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for equities

Contemporary Examples of equities

Historical Examples of equities

  • As the goods are sold, so are the equities in them released, and the balance is credited to the mill.

  • That's what it amounts to, when you get down to it, behind all the bank balances and equities.

    The Prisoner

    Alice Brown

  • Black Feather, who believed firmly in the equities of force, did not hesitate.

    The Sunset Trail

    Alfred Henry Lewis

  • Once more Bonteck went over the equities patiently and painstakingly.

    Pirates' Hope

    Francis Lynde

  • Where the equities are equal the law prevails, in any course it likes to pursue.

British Dictionary definitions for equities


pl n

another name for ordinary shares



the actors' trade unionFull name: Actors' Equity Association


noun plural -ties

the quality of being impartial or reasonable; fairness
an impartial or fair act, decision, etc
law a system of jurisprudence founded on principles of natural justice and fair conduct. It supplements the common law and mitigates its inflexibility, as by providing a remedy where none exists at law
law an equitable right or claimequity of redemption
the interest of ordinary shareholders in a company
the market value of a debtor's property in excess of all debts to which it is liable

Word Origin for equity

C14: from Old French equite, from Latin aequitās, from aequus level, equal
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 equities



early 14c., from Old French equite (13c.), from Latin aequitatem (nominative aequitas) "equality, conformity, symmetry, fairness," from aequus "even, just, equal" (see equal). As the name of a system of law, 1590s, from Roman naturalis aequitas, the general principles of justice which corrected or supplemented the legal codes.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

equities in Culture


A body of rules or customs based on general principles of fair play rather than on common law or statutory law.


In real estate, the financial value of someone's property over and above the amount the person owes on mortgages. For example, if you buy a house for $100,000, paying $20,000 down and borrowing $80,000, your equity in the house is $20,000. As you pay off the principal of the loan, your equity will rise.

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.