A term widely used in the U.K. to describe fixed-interest securities issued by the State or by local authorities. Bonds may fall into various categories named for convenience ‘long’, ‘medium’ or ‘short’, reflecting the date at which they are redeemable. Irredeemable bonds such as consols are also issued, but these are normally the prerogative of the central government and are incorporated into the national debt.
In the United States – and even occasionally in the U.K. – the term is sometimes applied to company loans, though in such an event the bonds would tend to be secured by fixed or floating charge.
Reference: The Penguin Business Dictionary, 3rd edt.