In finance, the term "share" denotes a specific portion of ownership in an entity's stock. While the term "shares" is most commonly used in reference to ownership in the stocks of companies listed on a stock exchange, it may also be used in reference to membership in an investment fund or ownership of a private limited company (limited liability company), startup, small business, microbusiness, non-profit organization or any other type of endeavor.

In practice, the term "shares" is often used synonymously with the terms "stocks" and "equities" to denote a  share in company ownership. However, it is more accurate to differentiate between shares (the units which make up a stock) and stocks (a portion of ownership in a company). An investor can have many shares in a single company's stock, or they can own shares in the stocks of many different companies. The term "equity" refers to a portion of ownership in any asset. Because equity in a company is normally measured as shares in a company's stock, the term "equities" is often used in reference to shares.

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Editor Daniel Dreier
Daniel Dreier is editor and personal finance expert at