1

accountant

noun ac·coun·tant \ ə-ˈkau̇n-tᵊnt \
Updated on: 14 Nov 2017

Definition of accountant

1 :one that gives an account or is accountable
2 :one who is skilled in the practice of accounting or who is in charge of public or private accounts

accountantship

play \-tᵊn(t)-ˌship\ noun

Recent Examples of accountant from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'accountant.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of accountant

Middle English accomptaunt, accountant "official in charge of accounts," borrowed from Anglo-French acomptant, noun derivative of accountaunt, present participle of acunter, acompter "to 2account"


2

accountant

adjective

Definition of accountant

obsolete
:accountable, answerable
  • I stand accountant for as great a sin
  • —William Shakespeare

Origin and Etymology of accountant

Middle English accomptaunt, borrowed from Anglo-French accountaunt, from present participle of acunter, acompter "to 2account"


Financial Definition of ACCOUNTANT

accountant

What It Is

An accountant is trained to compile, inspect, interpret, and/or report financial statements and tax returns that comply with governmental and regulatory authority requirements.

How It Works

Accountants often work in a company's accounting department, at an auditing firm, or in a private practice. Regardless of where they work, an accountant's work generally revolves around recording, measuring, and presenting financial information.

In a company's accounting department, accounting functions often include billing customers, collecting payment, paying vendors and employees, reconciling bank accounts, calculating and remitting taxes, and correctly recording transactions among subsidiaries and ventures. They also include creating budgets, setting spending policies, and making or participating in major business decisions.

Audit work includes verifying a company's financial information, helping a company determine the appropriate accounting treatment for complex transactions, and providing public opinions about the quality of a company's accounting records. Accountants in private practice may provide bookkeeping services for small companies, prepare tax returns for companies and individuals, or offer consulting services for certain types of transactions or industries.

Many accountants seek certifications to evidence their attainment of certain levels of professional competence. These certifications include Certified Professional Accountant (CPA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA), and Certified Internal Auditor (CIA). Some accountants also specialize in certain areas of accounting, such as tax accounting, oil and gas accounting, forensic accounting (bankruptcy), or international accounting.

Why It Matters

Although people often refer to accountants as "bean counters" who focus on the smallest details, accountants have the rare advantage of being able to understand both the details of each area of a company and the big picture. This broad and deep knowledge is why CEOs often come from the ranks of accounting and finance.

Effective accountants must be able to solve problems creatively and analyze information to gain insight into situations. They must also be able to persuasively discuss and defend their views, stay abreast of new e-commerce and software technologies, manage projects and deadlines, and have the confidence to make recommendations and policies that affect an entire organization. Above all, successful accountants are good communicators, act ethically, and rigorously follow the law and accounting rules.

It is very important to understand that not all accountants are CPAs. CPAs are licensed by the states in which they practice. To become a CPA, an accountant must complete a formal program of study at a college or university, pass the Uniform CPA Examination administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and have a certain amount of related work experience. Each state's board of accountancy determines the exact requirements in each of these three areas. In some states, only CPAs can perform certain accounting functions. The Securities and Exchange Commission also requires that only CPAs perform certain functions.

Each state board of accountancy requires its CPAs to keep current on accounting rules and practices by taking Continuing Professional Education (CPE) courses each year. Each board determines how many CPE credits a CPA in that state must obtain each year and what activities warrant these credits.


ACCOUNTANT Defined for English Language Learners

accountant

noun

Definition of accountant for English Language Learners

  • : someone whose job is to keep the financial records of a business or person


ACCOUNTANT Defined for Kids

accountant

noun ac·coun·tant \ ə-ˈkau̇n-tᵊnt \

Definition of accountant for Students

:someone whose job is keeping the financial records of a person or a business


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