Popular Terms
A selfish want for something beyond one's need. Typically, greed is associated with wealth or power.

Greed describes a desire to have or acquire something that is not necessary for their own survival but also to the detriment of another. In addition, greed usually describes someone that cannot have enough. The more he or she attains, the more he or she wants and is never satisfied. Potential consequences of unchecked greed include bankruptcy, destitution and even criminal punishment.

In American business, greed is most often associated with investment scams and tax evasion.

Perhaps the most infamous example of greed is Bernie Madoff's Ponzi Scheme, which was the biggest fraudulent scheme in U.S.

history. Bernie Madoff, financial advisor of his own firm named Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, was also the past chairman of NASDAQ. He used his position as a financial advisor and chairman of his own firm to convince investors that he would earn large gains. Instead of investing the money, he deposited the money into a bank account. Statements to investors would show gains that were, in actuality, money procured from new investors. The plan worked as long as new investors came on board and existing investors did not want to cash out. In fact, no gains were earned at all, and eventually, the scheme collapsed, only after Madoff had cheated investors out of $65 billion. Madoff was very greedy according to his own words, "I lived very extravagantly. In the end, I bought a plane with another person. I had a boat [and four homes]. You're talking about someone who had a billion dollars."

Madoff's greed resulted in a prison sentence of 150 years, where he claims to be helping his victims recover their money.

His wife is estranged, and his son, who worked with his father, committed suicide. According to Madoff, he regrets his mistakes. "The thing that was important to me was family, but that's all gone. That's more punishment that being incarcerated."

While the consequences of greed are not always so harsh, greed does damage relationships with family and friends. The subprime mortgage crisis that coincided with the recession in the United States between 2007 and 2009 can be attributed to greed. Banks desire to earn more profits caused them to lower credit standards, which allowed people to get home loans beyond their means. The lure of living in an expensive home was very attractive to many. However, many could not afford the mortgage payments and eventually were forced to sell their homes at a loss or file for personal bankruptcy.

Use 'greed' in a Sentence

She is so greedy that she won't give any money to charity.
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Kelly's greed for power ruined his friendships.
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His greed to own boats, homes and cars eventually led to his financial ruin.
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Notable Quotable

One Perspective on Greed
"The point is that you can't be too greedy."
- Donald Trump
Does Greed Equate to Guilt
"I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself. (Ivan Boesky made this statement in his 1985 commencement speech at UC)"
- Ivan Boesky

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