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Taking out a life loan

Posted by Smokey Stover on July 15, 2006

In Reply to: Taking out a life loan posted by JT on July 14, 2006

: Where did the phrase "taking out a life loan" come from? A loan from a loanshark? By the way, where did loanshark come from? Thanks. JT

As nearly as I can tell, "Life Loan" is a term used by the Bank of Ireland (and perhaps others) to describe a personal loan, to be used as the borrower sees fit, with one's house as collateral. Presumably it is a loan for the purpose of enhancing one's life. The length and other terms of the loan are negotiable in the normal way. If there is some other meaning to this term I did not find it.

As for loan sharks, the meaning is almost self-evident. There are always some people who need money so badly that they will agree to exorbitant and illegal interest and other terms. Sometimes the penalty for late payment is having one's knees broken.

According to the OED the term first appeared in print in 1905. However, financial sharks--people as ruthless and rapacious as sharks--had entered the scene and the language much earlier, as the OED documents.
"2. fig. a. (Cf. SHARK n.2) Applied to persons, with allusion to the predatory habits and voracity of the shark; one who enriches himself by taking advantage of the necessities of others; a rapacious usurer, an extortionate landlord or letter of lodgings, etc., a financial swindler.
1713 Guardian No. 73 The sharks, who prey upon the inadvertency of young heirs. 1804 Naval Chron. XII. 249 The slopsellers, and other sharks, at this port. 1832 G. DOWNES Lett. Cont. Countries I. 385 Our guide, a genuine shark, did his best to defraud his brethren, and thereby secure the entire fee. 1857 TROLLOPE Three Clerks I. iii. 58 He expected to pay £200 a year for his board and lodging, which he thought might as well go to his niece as to some shark, who would probably starve him. 1886 C. E. PASCOE Lond. To-day xix. (ed. 3) 187 Brighton is less plagued with 'sharks' than seaside resorts usually are. 1904 SHUDDICK How to arrange with Creditors 35 The..simplest way of checking the rapacity of the money-lending shark."

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