Interest is used most often to describe something you like, enjoy or think useful. You might have an interest in African literature, or you might follow the news with interest.

Although interest is used mainly to describe anything that is, well, interesting, it also is used in specific legal contexts. If you have an interest in a company, it means you own part of it. Interest is also the word used to describe money charged or given as part of a debt. If a bank loans you $10,000, you have to pay back the $10,000 plus the interest. If the interest rate is 5 percent annually, you would owe $500.

Primary Meanings of interest

a sense of concern with and curiosity about someone or something
excite the curiosity of; engage the interest of
a fixed charge for borrowing money; usually a percentage of the amount borrowed
(law) a right or legal share of something; a financial involvement with something
(usually plural) a social group whose members control some field of activity and who have common aims
Full Definitions of interest

n a sense of concern with and curiosity about someone or something

“an interest in music”
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a lively interest
something that interests you because it is important or affects you
an excessive enthusiasm for all things English
extraordinary enthusiasm for ballets
earth, earthly concern, world, worldly concern
the concerns of this life as distinguished from heaven and the afterlife
affair, matter, thing
a matter or concern
affairs, personal business, personal matters
matters of personal concern
that which concerns a person with regard to a particular role or situation
point of honor
a concern that seriously reflects on your honor
Type of:
curiosity, wonder
a state in which you want to learn more about something

n the power of attracting or holding one's attention (because it is unusual or exciting etc.)

“they said nothing of great interest
“primary colors can add interest to a room”
inability to capture or hold one's interest
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charisma, personal appeal, personal magnetism
a personal attractiveness or interestingness that enables you to influence others
news, newsworthiness
the quality of being sufficiently interesting to be reported in news bulletins
the attribute of being of interest at the present time
color, colour, vividness
interest and variety and intensity
the quality of being sharp or harsh to the senses
Type of:
power, powerfulness
possession of controlling influence

n a diversion that occupies one's time and thoughts (usually pleasantly)

“he counts reading among his interests
pastime, pursuit
avocation, by-line, hobby, pursuit, sideline, spare-time activity
an auxiliary activity
spelaeology, speleology
the pastime of exploring caves
Type of:
diversion, recreation
an activity that diverts or amuses or stimulates

n a reason for wanting something done

“in the interest of safety”
“in the common interest
for someone's benefit (usually expressed as `in behalf' rather than `on behalf' and usually with a possessive)
Type of:
benefit, welfare
something that aids or promotes well-being

v excite the curiosity of; engage the interest of

bore, tire
cause to be bored
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absorb, engage, engross, occupy
consume all of one's attention or time
fascinate, grip, spellbind, transfix
render motionless, as with a fixed stare or by arousing terror or awe
occupy or engage the interest of
engage fully
hold (someone's attention)
Type of:
arouse, elicit, enkindle, evoke, fire, kindle, provoke, raise
call forth (emotions, feelings, and responses)

v be on the mind of

concern, occupy, worry

v be of importance or consequence to

matter to
fascinate, intrigue
cause to be interested or curious
grab, seize
capture the attention or imagination of
Type of:
bear on, come to, concern, have-to doe with, pertain, refer, relate, touch, touch on
be relevant to

n a fixed charge for borrowing money; usually a percentage of the amount borrowed

“how much interest do you pay on your mortgage?”
compound interest
interest calculated on both the principal and the accrued interest
simple interest
interest paid on the principal alone
Type of:
fixed charge, fixed cost, fixed costs
a periodic charge that does not vary with business volume (as insurance or rent or mortgage payments etc.)

n (law) a right or legal share of something; a financial involvement with something

“they have interests all over the world”
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funds advanced to a prospector or to someone starting a business in return for a share of the profits
controlling interest
ownership of more than 50% of a corporation's voting shares
insurable interest
an interest in a person or thing that will support the issuance of an insurance policy; an interest in the survival of the insured or in the preservation of the thing that is insured
vested interest
(law) an interest in which there is a fixed right to present or future enjoyment and that can be conveyed to another
security interest
any interest in a property that secures the payment of an obligation
terminable interest
an interest in property that terminates under specific conditions
undivided interest, undivided right
the interest in property owned by tenants whereby each tenant has an equal right to enjoy the entire property
an interest in land capable of being inherited
the ownership interest of shareholders in a corporation
(law) an interest in an estate that reverts to the grantor (or his heirs) at the end of some period (e.g., the death of the grantee)
(frequently plural) the interest possessed by law or custom in some intangible thing
fee simple
a fee without limitation to any class of heirs; they can sell it or give it away
fee tail
a fee limited to a particular line of heirs; they are not free to sell it or give it away
sweat equity
interest in a building that a tenant earns by contributing to its renovation or maintenance
a reversion to the state (as the ultimate owner of property) in the absence of legal heirs
a deposit of personal property as security for a debt
a conditional conveyance of property as security for the repayment of a loan
conditional sale
a security interest taken by the seller in return for credit
a security pledged for the repayment of a loan
the right to take another's property if an obligation is not discharged
Type of:
part, percentage, portion, share
assets belonging to or due to or contributed by an individual person or group

n (usually plural) a social group whose members control some field of activity and who have common aims

“the iron interests stepped up production”
interest group
special interest
an individual or group who are concerned with some particular part of the economy and who try to influence legislators or bureaucrats to act in their favor
vested interest
groups that seek to control a social system or activity from which they derive private benefit
military-industrial complex
a country's military establishment and the industries that produce arms and other military equipment
Type of:
social group
people sharing some social relation

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