Guarantee, guaranty, surety, security, bond, bail are comparable when they mean either something that is given or pledged as assurance of one’s responsibility (as for the payment of a debt, the fulfillment of a promise or obligation, or the performance of a duty) or the person who accepts such responsibility and gives or pledges something by way of assurance.
Guarantee and guaranty generally imply acceptance and especially contractual acceptance of this responsibility for another in case of his default; they may, however, imply an agreement to ensure for another the possession or enjoyment of a right, privilege, or prerogative. The words may be used interchangeably not only of something given as a pledge or of the person making the pledge but also of the contract or promise accepting the responsibility or obligation.
In idiomatic use, however, they are often distinguished, guarantee being more often applied to the person and guaranty the preferred term for the contract or promise; either word is acceptable as a designation for what is given or pledged.
Surety and security stress provision for the protection of a person who is in a position to lose by the default of another. Both words are employable as designating either the person who accepts the responsibility or the money or property turned over to be forfeited in case of default.
However, surety is the usual term for the person or corporation that serves as guarantee or guarantor for another, and security for the money, property, or certificates of ownership turned over to a creditor, beneficiary, or obligee or hypothecated for a loan and forfeitable in the case of one’s own or another’s default.
Though guarantee and surety usually imply a legal status and documentary proof of that status, they are also subject to more general use in which no such proof is implied, and they come close to certainty or assurance in meaning.
Bond implies documentary proof of one’s acceptance of an obligation and a legally binding promise to repay the holder of that document a sum of money due him on one’s own account or in case of the default of another for whom one serves as surety. Bond, therefore, is used either of the document which is given as a pledge or for the person or corporation that serves as a legally bound surety.
Bail implies responsibility for the sure reappearance, at the time prescribed by the court, of a prisoner who has been released from jail pending his trial. The term is applicable to the security given and forfeitable if the prisoner does not return or to the person serving as surety and providing the security or to the state of being out of prison and in the custody of a surety.