I happened to read an article about finance, where it used the word "stock". It occurred to me that "share" has a similar meaning to it. I found out that share means a single unit of a divided ownership of a property or business, making up stock or stake (Maybe I misunderstood it). But the difference between stock and stake remains elusive, so I want to ask for clarification of this subtle distinction.

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    He has shares in company XYZ = He has stock in XYZ = He has a stake in XYZ. In the world of corporate finance, they all mean the same thing. But note that "to have a stake" in something is often used far more broadly / metaphorically, as in He has a stake in XYZ because they're one of his biggest customers - perfectly credible even if he doesn't own any shares (but he does "have a financial interest" in the company, because his own fortunes are closely linked). Or I have a stake in my nephews because they share 25% of my DNA (but there's no "money" involved). Apr 26, 2022 at 11:49
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    Note the singular/plural and use of article differences above, which are syntactic / idiomatic ("grammar"), rather than semantic ("meaning"). Apr 26, 2022 at 11:53

1 Answer 1


Between "shares" and "stocks", "stocks" is the more general, generic term. It is often used to describe a slice of ownership of one or more companies. In contrast, in common parlance, "shares" has a more specific meaning: It often refers to the ownership of a particular company.

So if someone says he "owns shares", some people's inclination would be to respond, "shares in what company?". Similarly, an investor might tell his broker to buy him 100 shares of a certain company. If he said "buy 100 stocks", he'd be referring to a whole collection of companies — 100 different ones, in fact.

For "stakes": If you own stock in a given company, your stake represents the percentage of its stock that you own. However, a stake doesn't necessarily need to refer to stock ownership. Rather, "stake" is a more general term used to convey partial ownership in a company.


If you and a business partner decide to buy an investment property together, you could say that you both own a stake in the property even though there's no formal stock structure.

You can read more about stocks vs shares here


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    "share" as opposed to "shares" can mean a fractional ownership: "He has a one-third share in the partnership" Jun 10, 2022 at 0:38

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