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Attested in 14th century; from Old French equite [13th c.], from Latin aequitas (uniformity”, “impartiality”, “fairness).


    • (file)
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈɛk.wɪ.ti/


equity (countable and uncountable, plural equities)

  1. Fairness, impartiality, or justice as determined in light of "natural law" or "natural right".
  2. (law) Various related senses originating with the Court of Chancery in late Medieval England
    1. (law) The power of a court of law having extra-statutory discretion, to decide legal matters and to provide legal relief apart from, though not in violation of, the prevailing legal code; in some cases, a court "sitting in equity" may provide relief to a complainant should the code be found either inapplicable or insufficient to do so.
      • 1800, Lloyd Kenyon, 1st Baron Kenyon in Mayor, &c. of Southampton v. Graves (1800), 8 T. R. 592.
        A Court of equity knows its own province.
      • 1851, Edward Sugden, 1st Baron St Leonards in Birch v. Joy (1851), 3 H. L. C. 598:
        "A Court of equity interposes only according to conscience."
      • 1848-55, Thomas Babington Macaulay, History of England, Chapter IX:
        Equity had been gradually shaping itself into a refined science which no human faculties could master without long and intense application.
    2. (law) A right which accrues to a party in a transaction because of the nature of the transaction itself, and which is exercisable upon a change of circumstances or conditions; in other words, an equitable claim.
      • 1999, In Re Fitzgerald, 237 B.R. 252, 261 (Bkrtcy. D.Conn. 1999):
        "...the mortgagor retains ‘equitable title’ or the ‘equity of redemption’….The equity of redemption permits the mortgagor to regain legal title to the mortgaged property upon satisfying the conditions of the mortgage..."
      • (Can we date this quote by Kent and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
        I consider the wife's equity to be too well settled to be shaken.
    3. (law, England) The body of law which was developed in the English Court of Chancery, which Court had extra-statutory discretion, and is now administered alongside the common law of Britain.
  3. (finance) Various senses related to net value
    1. (law, finance) Value of property minus liens or other encumbrances.
      I have a lot of equity in my house.
    2. (business) Ownership, especially in terms of net monetary value of some business.
      • 2013 June 22, “Engineers of a different kind”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8841, page 70:
        Private-equity nabobs bristle at being dubbed mere financiers. Piling debt onto companies’ balance-sheets is only a small part of what leveraged buy-outs are about, they insist. Improving the workings of the businesses they take over is just as core to their calling, if not more so. Much of their pleading is public-relations bluster.
    3. (accounting) Ownership interest in a company as determined by subtracting liabilities from assets.
    4. (poker) A player's expected share of the pot.



  • equity” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2020.