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Something owed. Anyone having borrowed money or goods from another owes a debt and is under obligation to return the goods or repay the money, usually with interest. For governments, the need to borrow in order to finance a deficit budget has led to the development of various forms of national debt. See alsobankruptcy; debtor and creditor; usury.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on debt, visit Britannica.com.