equity vs fairness what difference

what is difference between equity and fairness


Alternative forms

  • æquity (archaic, poetic)
  • equitie (archaic)


Attested in 14th century; from the 13th century Old French equite, from Latin aequitas (uniformity; impartiality; fairness). Doublet of equality.


  • (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…”
      • 1826, James Kent, Commentaries on American Law
        The wife’s equity does not, according to the adjudged cases, attach, except upon that part of her personal property in action which the husband cannot acquire without the assistance of a court of equity
    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.
    2. (business) Ownership, especially in terms of net monetary value of some business.
    3. (accounting) Ownership interest in a company as determined by subtracting liabilities from assets.
    4. (poker) A player’s expected share of the pot.
  4. (nonstandard) Equality



  • Douglas Harper (2001–2021), “equity”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.



From Middle English fairness, fæȝernesse, from Old English fæġernes (fairness; beauty; pleasantness), equivalent to fair +‎ -ness. Cognate with Old High German fagarnessi (fairness).


fairness (countable and uncountable, plural fairnesses)

  1. The property of being fair or equitable.
  2. The property of being fair or beautiful.
    Synonyms: fairhood, beauty

Derived terms

  • in fairness



  • Serafins, sanserif

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