Hire – definition and meaning

To hire means either to employ somebody for wages or obtain something temporarily for which the borrower pays money. As a noun, it can mean the act of taking on a worker, borrowing something for money, or an employee. For example, if I say “Our new hires work there,” it means our new employees work there.

If I hire myself out, it means I make myself available for temporary employment.

According to the Oxford Living Dictionaries, as a verb, the term means to:

“1. Obtain the temporary use of (something) for an agreed payment. 2. Grant the temporary use of something for an agreed payment.”

“3. Employ (someone) for wages. 4. Employ for a short time to do a particular job.”

Rent vs. hire

Although ‘renting’ and ‘hiring’ have very similar meanings, they are not the same.

In the United States, people use ‘renting’ for objects and ‘hiring’ for people. Hence, the phrases “I am hiring an attorney,” and “I am renting a house.”

In British English, hiring is something people do only with things that they can move around. For example, I can hire a bicycle, boat, or car. Boats, cars, and bicycles are transportable.

Hire - definition and examples
The word ‘hire’ has several meanings. Britons and North Americans sometimes use the term differently.

Britons use ‘rent,’ on the other hand, for things that people cannot move around. For example, you may rent a villa in Italy, office space, or an apartment. Apartments, villas, and office space are fixed things, i.e., they are not transportable.

This difference is not a strict rule. In fact, many examples break this rule. For example, I have heard Britons use both the terms car rentals and car hire. (Americans only say ‘car hire.’)

However, in the UK, people never use ‘hiring’ for things we cannot move. Britons never say “I am hiring an apartment.” Therefore, if we want a strict rule, we can say that British people use ‘rent’ for anything and ‘hire’ only for transportable things.

Hire purchase

Hire purchase is an arrangement whereby somebody can buy an asset by paying a deposit plus monthly installments. The term is common in the United Kingdom.

In the US, people call it an ‘installment plan.’ People also refer to this arrangement as ‘rent to own‘ or ‘closed-end leasing.’

This type of purchase agreement originated in the UK in the 19th century. They allowed consumers who were short of cash to make expensive purchases.

In fact, without such an agreement, many customers would have forgone those purchases.

There are several words which have slightly different meanings in various parts of the English speaking world. ‘Holiday,’ for example, can mean one thing in North America and something else in the UK.