from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A state of curiosity or concern about or attention to something.
  • noun Something, such as a quality, subject, or activity, that evokes this mental state.
  • noun Regard for one's own benefit or advantage; self-interest.
  • noun A right, claim, or legal share.
  • noun Something in which such a right, claim, or share is held.
  • noun A person or group of persons holding such a right, claim, or share.
  • noun Involvement with or participation in something.
  • noun A charge for a loan, usually a percentage of the amount loaned.
  • noun An excess or bonus beyond what is expected or due.
  • noun An interest group.
  • noun The particular cause supported by an interest group.
  • transitive verb To arouse the curiosity or hold the attention of.
  • transitive verb To cause to become involved or concerned with.
  • transitive verb Archaic To concern or affect.
  • idiom (interest/interests) To the advantage of; for the sake of.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To concern; affect; be of advantage or importance to.
  • To engage the attention of; excite concern in; stimulate to feeling or action in regard to something.
  • To cause to take a personal concern or share; induce to participate: as, to interest a person in an enterprise.
  • To place or station.
  • noun That which concerns or is of importance; that which is advantageous, or connected with advantage or welfare; concern; concernment; behoof; advantage: as, the common interests of life; to act for the public interest.
  • noun The feeling that something (the object of the feeling) concerns one; a feeling of the importance of something with reference to one's self; a feeling of personal concernment in an object, such as to fix the attention upon it; appreciative or sympathetic regard: as, to feel an interest in a person; to excite one's interest in a project; a subject of absorbing interest.
  • noun Personal or selfish consideration; regard to private benefit or profit: as, his actions are controlled by interest; the clashing of rival interests.
  • noun Influence from personal importance or capability; power of influencing the action of others: as, he has interest at court; to solicit a person's interest in behalf of an application.
  • noun Personal possession or right of control; share or participation in ownership: as, to have great interests in a county; an interest in a stock company; also, anything that is of importance from a commercial or financial point of view; a business; property in general: as, the mining interests.
  • noun In law, in the most general sense, legal concern of a person in a thing or in the conduct of another person, whether it consist in a right of enjoyment in or benefit from property, or a right of advantage, or a subjection to liability in the event of conduct; more specifically, a right in property, or to some of those uses or benefits from which the property is inseparable.
  • noun Payment, or a sum paid, for the use of money, or for forbearance of a debt.
  • noun Hence Something added or thrown in by way of premium or enhancement; an added quantity over and above what is due, deserved, or expected.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To engage the attention of; to awaken interest in; to excite emotion or passion in, in behalf of a person or thing
  • transitive verb obsolete To be concerned with or engaged in; to affect; to concern; to excite; -- often used impersonally.
  • transitive verb obsolete To cause or permit to share.
  • noun Excitement of feeling, whether pleasant or painful, accompanying special attention to some object; concern; a desire to learn more about a topic or engage often in an activity.
  • noun (Finance, Commerce) Participation in advantage, profit, and responsibility; share; portion; part
  • noun Advantage, personal or general; good, regarded as a selfish benefit; profit; benefit.
  • noun (Finance) A fee paid for the use of money; a fee paid for a loan; -- usually reckoned as a percentage.
  • noun Any excess of advantage over and above an exact equivalent for what is given or rendered.
  • noun The persons interested in any particular business or measure, taken collectively
  • noun interest, not only on the original principal, but also on unpaid interest from the time it fell due.
  • noun interest on the principal sum without interest on overdue interest.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun uncountable Attention that is given to or received from someone or something.
  • noun countable A business or amorous link or involvement.
  • noun obsolete, rare Injury, or compensation for injury; damages.
  • verb To attract attention or concern.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun the power of attracting or holding one's attention (because it is unusual or exciting etc.)
  • noun (law) a right or legal share of something; a financial involvement with something
  • noun a diversion that occupies one's time and thoughts (usually pleasantly)
  • noun a fixed charge for borrowing money; usually a percentage of the amount borrowed


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin, it is of importance, third person sing. present tense of interesse, to be between, take part in : inter-, inter- + esse, to be; see es- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French interesse and interest (French: intérêt), from Medieval Latin interesse, from Latin interesse.


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