noun, plural u·su·ries.

the lending or practice of lending money at an exorbitant interest.
an exorbitant amount or rate of interest, especially in excess of the legal rate.
Obsolete. interest paid for the use of money.

Origin of usury

1275–1325; Middle English usurie < Medieval Latin ūsūria (compare Latin ūsūra), equivalent to Latin ūs(us) (see use) + -ūr(a) -ure + -ia -y3 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for usury

exploitation, stealing

Examples from the Web for usury

Contemporary Examples of usury

Historical Examples of usury

  • You have been lending money on usury too, and on a bad security.

    The Christian

    Hall Caine

  • She wanted to pay him with usury for his cool, hard disdain.

    The Highgrader

    William MacLeod Raine

  • His words are to be taken literally; all that He promises He gives with usury.

  • Thus we see that the divell is the planter, and the father of usury.

  • Charlemagne, in France, forbid the taking of usury either by priests or laity.


    Calvin Elliott

British Dictionary definitions for usury


noun plural -ries

the act or practice of loaning money at an exorbitant rate of interest
an exorbitant or unlawfully high amount or rate of interest
obsolete moneylending
Derived Formsusurious (juːˈʒʊərɪəs), adjective

Word Origin for usury

C14: from Medieval Latin ūsūria, from Latin ūsūra usage, from ūsus use
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 usury

c.1300, from Medieval Latin usuria, from Latin usura "usury, interest," from usus, from stem of uti (see use (v.)). Originally the practice of lending money at interest, later, at excessive rates of interest.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

usury in Culture



The practice of charging more than the legal interest rate.

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.