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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Earnest is a serious mental state of intent - a proposal made in earnest will more likely be received favorably. The seriousness of the intent (when persisted will generally) result in actions to be of considerable or impressive degree or amount. For example one observing earnestness might say, "the woman was earnest in her vigilance of completing her objective, this earnest intent has served her well."

  • Etymology: Middle English ernest, from Old English eornost; akin to Old High German ernust and earnest.
  • Date: before 12th century

Earnest has other examples in life: an earnest payment (sometimes called earnest money or simply earnest, or alternatively a good-faith deposit) is a deposit towards the purchase of real estate or publicly tendered government contract made by a buyer or registered contractor to demonstrate that he/she is serious (earnest) about wanting to complete the purchase. When a buyer makes an offer to buy residential real estate, he/she generally signs a contract and pays a sum acceptable to the seller by way of earnest money. The amount varies enormously, depending upon local custom and the state of the local market at the time of contract negotiations.

In very lively markets (as experienced on the East and West coasts of the US between 2000 and 2005) earnest money deposits could be as high as 5% of the sales price or more.[citation needed] In other communities, as little as $500 or $1000 is acceptable.[citation needed]

If the seller accepts the offer, the earnest money is held in escrow by the real estate broker (in states like New York) or by a settlement or title company (in states like California, Florida, and Texas) until closing and is then applied to the buyer's portion of the remaining costs. If the offer is rejected, the earnest money is usually returned, since no binding contract has been entered into. If the buyer retracts the offer or does not fulfill its obligations under the contract, the earnest is forfeited. Therefore, it is generally in the seller's best interest to see as high an earnest money deposit as possible.

In ancient times, the earnest payment was called an earnest penny, and also known as Arles penny, God's penny, or Argentum Dei. It signified money given to bind a bargain, especially for the purchase or hiring of a servant. According to Black's Law Dictionary (sixth ed.), Et cepit de praedicto Henrico tres denarios de Argento Dei prae manibus.[1] Another related term was luck money, which was an amount given back to the buyer by the seller on the completion of a deal, for luck.


  1. ^ This article incorporates content from the 1728 Cyclopaedia, a publication in the public domain. [1]

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

EARNEST (probably a corruption of the obsolete arles or erles, adapted from Lat. equivalent arrha, due to a confusion with the adjective "earnest," serious, O. Eng. eornust, cognate with Ger. ernst), the payment of a sum of money by the buyer of goods to the seller on the conclusion of a bargain as a pledge for its due performance. It is almost similar to the arrha of the Roman law, which may be traced back in the history of legal institutions to a period when the validity of a contract depended not so much upon the real intention of the parties, as upon the due observance of a prescribed ceremony. But earnest was never part payment, which arrha might have been. Apart from its survival as a custom, its chief importance in English law is its recognition by the Statute of Frauds as giving validity to contracts for the sale of goods of a value exceeding Rio (see Sale Of GooDs). It is in that statute clearly distinguished from part payment, consequently any sum, however small, would be sufficient as earnest, being given as a token that the contract is binding and should be expressly stated so by the giver. The giving of earnest, or hand-money, as it is sometimes called, has now fallen into very general disuse.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also earnest


Proper noun




  1. A male given name, an occasional spelling variant of Ernest.


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

The Spirit is the earnest of the believer's destined inheritance (2Cor 1:22; 5:5; Eph 1:14). The word thus rendered is the same as that rendered "pledge" in Gen 38:17-20; "indeed, the Hebrew word has simply passed into the Greek and Latin languages, probably through commercial dealings with the Phoenicians, the great trading people of ancient days. Originally it meant no more than a pledge; but in common usage it came to denote that particular kind of pledge which is a part of the full price of an article paid in advance; and as it is joined with the figure of a seal when applied to the Spirit, it seems to be used by Paul in this specific sense." The Spirit's gracious presence and working in believers is a foretaste to them of the blessedness of heaven. God is graciously pleased to give not only pledges but foretastes of future blessedness.

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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