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Middle English, from Middle French or Old Italian; Middle French banque, from Old Italian banca, literally, bench, of Germanic origin; akin to Old English benc


  • 1: a mound, pile, or ridge raised above the surrounding level: as a : a piled-up mass of cloud or fog
b : an undersea elevation rising especially from the Shelf continental shelf
  • 2: the rising ground bordering a lake, river, or sea or forming the edge of a cut or hollow
  • 3a : a steep slope (as of a hill)
b : the lateral inward tilt of a surface along a curve or of a vehicle (as an airplane) when turning
  • 4: a protective or cushioning rim or piece
  • 1a : an establishment for the custody, loan, exchange, or issue of money, for the extension of credit, and for facilitating the transmission of funds
b obsolete : the table, counter, or place of business of a money changer
  • 2: a person conducting a gambling house or game; specifically : dealer
  • 3: a supply of something held in reserve: as a : the fund of supplies (as money, chips, or pieces) held by the banker or dealer for use in a game
b : a fund of pieces belonging to a game (as dominoes) from which the players draw
  • 4: a place where something is held available <memory banks>; especially : a depot for the collection and storage of a biological product <a blood bank>


A bank is a financial intermediary that accepts deposits and channels those deposits into lending activities, either directly or through capital markets. A bank connects customers with capital deficits to customers with capital surpluses.

Banking is generally a highly regulated industry, and government restrictions on financial activities by banks have varied over time and location. The current set of global bank capital standards are called Basel II. In some countries such as Germany, banks have historically owned major stakes in industrial corporations while in other countries such as the United States banks are prohibited from owning non-financial companies. In Japan, banks are usually the nexus of a cross-share holding entity known as the keiretsu. In Iceland banks had very light regulation prior to the 2008 collapse.

The oldest bank still in existence is Monte dei Paschi di Siena, headquartered in Siena, Italy, which has been operating continuously since 1472.[1]