Usury means lending money at exorbitant interest rates. Credit-card companies charging annual interest rates of 29% are guilty of usury, as far as I'm concerned.

A good way to remember the meaning of usury is that you can hear the word use in there. Think of charging too much interest as a way of "using" someone. The sad thing about high interest is that it's always the people who can least afford it who are charged rates so high that it amounts to usury. In the old days, if someone was found guilty of usury, they'd be flogged in the town square. Too bad the credit-card companies can't be dragged out of their holes, because they'd surely get a similar beating.

Definitions of usury

n the act of lending money at an exorbitant rate of interest

Type of:
lending, loaning
disposing of money or property with the expectation that the same thing (or an equivalent) will be returned

n an exorbitant or unlawful rate of interest

Type of:
interest rate, rate of interest
the percentage of a sum of money charged for its use

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