[ ek-wi-tee ]
/ ˈɛk wɪ ti /

noun, plural eq·ui·ties.

Origin of equity

1275–1325; Middle English equite < Latin aequitās. See equi-, -ty2

historical usage of equity

Equity is a great example of a word that started out with a general sense that developed more specific senses over time, while still retaining the original meaning. The very first meanings of equity in English were a direct translation from the original Old French equité, a word whose Latin root means “even,” “just,” and “equal.”
It was not until the late 16th century that a new meaning—one that placed equity in the arena of law—emerged. Perhaps because many of the usages of equity involved legal disputes over rights and claims of ownership, by the turn of the 20th century, the word started being used in another sector: finance. It was at this point that terms such as “home equity” and “equity loan” became common finance terms. At the same time, equity started popping up in terms of stock and asset ownership.
In 1913, a small group of actors founded the labor union, Actors’ Equity Association—proof that the original sense of equity was still very much alive. This union, often referred to simply as “Equity” (with a capital E), fights for the rights of actors in the spirit of equity’s Latin roots.

Quotations related to equity

  • "Made a judge, and the judge of an adored woman, he found in his soul the equity of a judge as well as the inflexibility."
    -Honoré de Balzac transl. by Katharine Prescott Wormeley Farragus: Chief of the Dévorants (1895)
  • "[H]ome equity borrowing has enormous disadvantages. Home, sweet home is the collateral. If you fall behind on payments, the bank could take it."
    -Mark Green, Nancy Youman The Consumer Bible: 1001 Ways to Shop Smart (1998)
  • "Equity represents ownership in the firm and consists of retained profits and shares issued either privately or through a stock market."
    -Robert Y. Redlinger, Per Dannemand Andersen, Poul Erik Morthorst Wind Energy in the 21st Century (2002)
  • "Equity insisted that striking actors be allowed to return to the positions they held at the time of the walkout."
    -Matthew Kennedy Marie Dressler: a A Biography (1999)

Example sentences from the Web for equity

British Dictionary definitions for equity (1 of 2)

/ (ˈɛkwɪtɪ) /

noun plural -ties

the quality of being impartial or reasonable; fairness
an impartial or fair act, decision, etc
law a system of jurisprudence founded on principles of natural justice and fair conduct. It supplements the common law and mitigates its inflexibility, as by providing a remedy where none exists at law
law an equitable right or claim equity of redemption
the interest of ordinary shareholders in a company
the market value of a debtor's property in excess of all debts to which it is liable

Word Origin for equity

C14: from Old French equite, from Latin aequitās, from aequus level, equal

British Dictionary definitions for equity (2 of 2)

/ (ˈɛkwɪtɪ) /


the actors' trade union Full name: Actors' Equity Association

Cultural definitions for equity (1 of 2)


A body of rules or customs based on general principles of fair play rather than on common law or statutory law.

Cultural definitions for equity (2 of 2)


In real estate, the financial value of someone's property over and above the amount the person owes on mortgages. For example, if you buy a house for $100,000, paying $20,000 down and borrowing $80,000, your equity in the house is $20,000. As you pay off the principal of the loan, your equity will rise.