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    One Word, Many Meanings: interest

    Friday, June 01, 2012

    The word interest has several different uses, both as a noun and as a verb:

    As a noun…
    interest has two clearly different meanings.

    • It can refer to curiosity about something, or to the thing that draws such attention:
      The boy showed a keen interest in learning about stocks.
      Birding has always been a favorite interest of Missy's.
    • Interest can also refer to a monetary gain on an investment or to the percentage charged on a loan:
      The interest we are paying on our new mortgage is nice and low.
      We put the interest we had earned on one of our accounts toward our down payment.

    As a verb…
    interest means "to attract and hold attention":

    • Does this class interest you?
    • Through careful promotion, we will interest employees in our self-help programs.

    In idioms…
    interest may be used in the following ways.

    • In the interest of suggests an advancement or improvement:
      In the interest of saving time, let's take a vote now.
    • Having a vested interest in something means that a person faces financial gain or political privilege through some activity.
      Considering that our CEO has a vested interest in the outcome, he will recuse himself from voting.

    Conclusion
    The more you absorb the richness of the English language, the better you will be able to hold your own reader's interest and achieve your writing goals.

    Photo by "the bridge"