Definition of interest in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈint(ə)rəst/


1The state of wanting to know or learn about something or someone: she looked about her with interest
More example sentences
  • There is great interest and people are learning a classical art form with great enthusiasm and dedication.
  • That was certainly of personal interest to me to learn, after having been here some 6 years.
  • I appreciate their interest and good wishes, I just keep crying every time I think about it.
attentiveness, attention, absorption;
heed, regard, notice;
curiosity, inquisitiveness;
enjoyment, delight, enthusiasm
1.1 (an interest in) A feeling of wanting to know or learn about (something): he developed an interest in art
More example sentences
  • Although he has no great interest in either location I need his help to learn my way.
  • It has had a longstanding interest in objectivity in research and financial conflict of interest.
1.2The quality of exciting curiosity or holding the attention: a tale full of interest
More example sentences
  • Unless poll results are meant to influence those yet to vote they are of academic or curiosity interest only.
  • Perhaps that is why this week there are a number of films of average quality or minority interest.
  • The Best of Gay Britain is a boxed set of three full-length features of varying interest and quality.
1.3A subject about which one is concerned or enthusiastic: my particular interest is twentieth-century poetry
More example sentences
  • So his interests and his activities outside of Iraq are nothing new.
  • You are asked to list recreational interests and activities, membership of clubs and societies.
  • He now feels that he is no longer under pressure, as he was in Australia, and can relax and enjoy some other interests and hobbies.
hobby, pastime, leisure pursuit, recreation, diversion, amusement;
passion, enthusiasm
informal thing, bag, cup of tea
2Money paid regularly at a particular rate for the use of money lent, or for delaying the repayment of a debt: the monthly rate of interest [as modifier]: interest payments
More example sentences
  • The bank will not lend money, and interest payments and receipts are forbidden.
  • If there is another agency which is lending money at better interest rates and with better conditions, I am ready to shift.
  • How much will it cost by the time you have repaid your debt (capital plus interest repayments)?
dividends, profits, returns;
a percentage
3The advantage or benefit of a person or group: the merger is not contrary to the public interest we are acting in the best interests of our customers
More example sentences
  • This would not seem to be the noblest form of patriotism, which calls us to look beyond private interests to the public benefit.
  • Since people can convince themselves of anything that is to their benefit or is in their interest, this is not surprising.
  • The cards have discounts and benefits for the youngsters so it is in their interest to carry them.
concern, business, affair
3.1 archaic The selfish pursuit of one’s own welfare; self-interest.
Example sentences
  • Brown's comments will strike a chord with those who feel that selfish interests and private agendas are being put ahead of the greater good of the game in Scotland and Holland.
  • It becomes an authentic spiritual experience only if it is totally free from selfish and mercenary interests on the part of those who facilitate it.
  • From the start, those that have championed the path of anarchy have exposed themselves as malcontents with selfish interests at heart.
4A stake, share, or involvement in an undertaking, especially a financial one: holders of voting rights must disclose their interests he must have no personal interest in the outcome of the case
More example sentences
  • The institute subsequently posted on its website the financial interests of all those involved.
  • Apart from the strategic concerns and government revenue at stake, immense corporate interests are involved.
  • Proffered concerns about underage drinking are thus merely a stalking horse for the financial interests at stake in these cases.
stake, share, claim, investment, stock, equity;
involvement, concern
involvement, partiality, partisanship, preference, loyalty;
bias, prejudice
4.1A legal concern, title, or right in property: third parties having an interest in a building
More example sentences
  • If one focuses on what those interests are, in my submission, they are substantive legal interests.
  • In both cases, the duty in tort serves to protect the bodily integrity and property interests of the inhabitants of the building.
  • The Inspectors then discussed a sale of the Trustee's property interests to another co-owner.
5 (usually interests) A group or organization having a specified common concern, especially in politics or business: the regulation of national interests in India, Brazil, and Africa
More example sentences
  • The NRA have come in for strong criticism locally both from landowners affected by the route of the road and various political and business interests.
  • The politicians, business interests and journalists that were part of the Indonesian lobby in Australia did use racial stereotyping.
  • The Government, business interests and civic organisations need to collaborate in the effort.


[with object]
1Excite the curiosity or attention of (someone): I thought the book might interest Eric
More example sentences
  • First, find a product or service that excites and interests you.
  • He has a very short attention span and unless something interests him he doesn't want to know.
  • Even a three-year old can begin to browse through the shelves, looking for different kinds of books that may interest her.
appeal to, be of interest to, attract, intrigue, fascinate;
absorb, engross, rivet, grip, captivate;
arouse one's curiosity, whet one's appetite
informal float someone's boat, tickle someone's fancy
persuade to have, tempt to have;
1.1 (interest someone in) Cause someone to undertake or acquire (something): efforts were made to interest her in a purchase



declare an (or one's) interest

Make known one’s financial interests in an undertaking before it is discussed.
Example sentences
  • Murphy declared his interest in the Eccles Street and Marlborough Street properties last October in the Corporation's register of interests.
  • Let me declare my interest: I am CEO of Nanotechnology Victoria, a company set up to invest in nanotechnology to support Victorian industry.
  • Two other clubs have also declared their interest in signing Leigh's Papua New Guinea international.

in the interests (or interest) of something

For the benefit of: in the interests of security we are keeping the information confidential
More example sentences
  • One such principle holds that space is to be explored and used ‘for the benefit and in the interests of all countries.’
  • We are doing so because it is in our best interests and in the interests of our citizens.
  • The Government should act in their interests and not just in the interests of the elite who can afford to build nursing homes.

of interest

Interesting: much of it is of interest to historians
More example sentences
  • The Tories have little to say of interest or importance on most of the political issues of the day.
  • Why should this book be of interest to readers in the United Kingdom or elsewhere in Europe?
  • They are available at all churches and are a good read and should be of interest to many.

with interest

With interest charged or paid: loans that must be paid back with interest
More example sentences
  • A chastened Black has promised that the money will be paid back with interest, but that is hardly the point.
  • Now the loan will be repayable from the fourth year over a period of 22 years with interest.
  • It is believed that the loan that was made available through Austin was repaid with interest.
4.1(Of an action) reciprocated with more force or vigor than the original one: he may have a reputation for getting even, with interest
More example sentences
  • Any wayward kicking will be returned with interest by the English back three.
  • Every time Currie threw something at County it was returned with interest.
  • At fullback Barry Daniels returned the ball with interest on numerous storming gallops up field.


Late Middle English (originally as interess): from Anglo-Norman French interesse, from Latin interesse 'differ, be important', from inter- 'between' + esse 'be'. The -t was added partly by association with Old French interest 'damage, loss', apparently from Latin interest 'it is important'. The original sense was 'the possession of a share in or a right to something'; hence sense 4 of the noun. sense 1 of the noun and the verb arose in the 18th century sense 2 of the noun was influenced by medieval Latin interesse 'compensation for a debtor's defaulting'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: in·ter·est

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.