[in-ter-ist, -trist]
See more synonyms for interest on
  1. the feeling of a person whose attention, concern, or curiosity is particularly engaged by something: She has a great interest in the poetry of Donne.
  2. something that concerns, involves, draws the attention of, or arouses the curiosity of a person: His interests are philosophy and chess.
  3. power of exciting such concern, involvement, etc.; quality of being interesting: political issues of great interest.
  4. concern; importance: a matter of primary interest.
  5. a business, cause, or the like in which a person has a share, concern, responsibility, etc.
  6. a share, right, or title in the ownership of property, in a commercial or financial undertaking, or the like: He bought half an interest in the store.
  7. a participation in or concern for a cause, advantage, responsibility, etc.
  8. a number or group of persons, or a party, financially interested in the same business, industry, or enterprise: the banking interest.
  9. interests, the group of persons or organizations having extensive financial or business power.
  10. the state of being affected by something in respect to advantage or detriment: We need an arbiter who is without interest in the outcome.
  11. benefit; advantage: to have one's own interest in mind.
  12. regard for one's own advantage or profit; self-interest: The partnership dissolved because of their conflicting interests.
  13. influence from personal importance or capability; power of influencing the action of others.
  14. Finance.
    1. a sum paid or charged for the use of money or for borrowing money.
    2. such a sum expressed as a percentage of money borrowed to be paid over a given period, usually one year.
  15. something added or thrown in above an exact equivalent: Jones paid him back with a left hook and added a right uppercut for interest.
verb (used with object)
  1. to engage or excite the attention or curiosity of: Mystery stories interested him greatly.
  2. to concern (a person, nation, etc.) in something; involve: The fight for peace interests all nations.
  3. to cause to take a personal concern or share; induce to participate: to interest a person in an enterprise.
  4. to cause to be concerned; affect.
  1. in the interest(s) of, to the advantage or advancement of; in behalf of: in the interests of good government.

Origin of interest

1225–75; (noun) Middle English < Medieval Latin, Latin: it concerns, literally, it is between; replacing interesse < Medieval Latin, Latin: to concern, literally, to be between; (v.) earlier interess as v. use of the noun; see inter-, esse
Related formso·ver·in·ter·est, nounpre·in·ter·est, noun, verbre·in·ter·est, noun, verb (used with object) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for interest

Contemporary Examples of interest

Historical Examples of interest

  • Men who take from the poor daily interest for a drachma, and spend it in debauchery.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Nevertheless I continued to treat him well on account of the interest you felt in him.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • As for art and the sciences, these did not interest them very much.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • It was for ever fighting someone, somewhere, for causes which did not interest the subjects at all.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • Strong as is the tie of interest, it has been often found ineffectual.

British Dictionary definitions for interest


  1. the sense of curiosity about or concern with something or someonean interest in butterflies
  2. the power of stimulating such a senseto have great interest
  3. the quality of such stimulation
  4. something in which one is interested; a hobby or pursuit
  5. (often plural) benefit; advantagein one's own interest
  6. (often plural)
    1. a right, share, or claim, esp in a business or property
    2. the business, property, etc, in which a person has such concern
    1. a charge for the use of credit or borrowed money
    2. such a charge expressed as a percentage per time unit of the sum borrowed or used
  7. (often plural) a section of a community, etc, whose members have common aimswe must not offend the landed interest
  8. declare an interest to make known one's connection, esp a prejudicial connection, with an affair
verb (tr)
  1. to arouse or excite the curiosity or concern of
  2. to cause to become involved in something; concern

Word Origin for interest

C15: from Latin: it concerns, from interesse; from inter- + esse to be
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 interest

mid-15c., "legal claim or right; concern; benefit, advantage;" earlier interesse (late 14c.), from Anglo-French interesse "what one has a legal concern in," from Medieval Latin interesse "compensation for loss," noun use of Latin interresse "to concern, make a difference, be of importance," literally "to be between," from inter- "between" (see inter-) + esse "to be" (see essence).

Cf. German Interesse, from the same Medieval Latin source. Form in English influenced 15c. by French interest "damage," from Latin interest "it is of importance, it makes a difference," third person singular present of interresse. Financial sense of "money paid for the use of money lent" (1520s) earlier was distinguished from usury (illegal under Church law) by being in reference to "compensation due from a defaulting debtor." Meaning "curiosity" is first attested 1771. Interest group is attested from 1907; interest rate by 1868.


"to cause to be interested," c.1600, earlier interesse (1560s), from the noun (see interest (n.)). Perhaps also from or influenced by interess'd, past participle of interesse.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

interest in Culture


The charge for borrowing money or the return for lending it.

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.

Idioms and Phrases with interest


see in one's interest; take an interest; vested interest; with interest.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.