ac·count·ing | \ə-ˈkau̇n-tiŋ \

Definition of accounting 

1 : the system of recording and summarizing business and financial transactions and analyzing, verifying, and reporting the results also : the principles and procedures of this system studied accounting as a freshman

2a : work done in accounting or by accountants

b : an instance of applied accounting or of the settling or presenting of accounts

3 : account sense 2 They were required to provide a detailed accounting of their actions.

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Examples of accounting in a Sentence

what accounting can you give for your bizarre actions on the night in question?

Recent Examples on the Web

Total expenses incurred by Gary government during 2017 was $124.6 million – with some $42.8 million accounting for municipal payroll, and $27 million of that payroll covering the city Police and Fire departments. Gregory Tejeda, Post-Tribune, "Gary mayor eyes improved fee collection to help city's finances," 11 July 2018 Federal authorities have not released an accounting of every parent separated, or where they have been detained. Dianna M. Náñez, azcentral, "Reunited or deported? Mother in ICE detention faces the inevitable," 12 July 2018 By Brisbee’s accounting, the last time that a position player pitched in a true blowout was when Hall-of-Fame first baseman George Sisler tried it for a laugh during a 16-7 victory on the last day of the 1920 season. Emma Baccellieri,, "The Rays and Marlins Played An Incredibly Strange Game on Tuesday Night," 4 July 2018 Contact your accounting and financial advisors with ESOP expertise for advice on whether an ESOP would be a good fit for your company, and if so, consider engaging their assistance with the implementation. Tom Cooney And Crystal Faulkner,, "Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) offer unique benefits and succession planning options," 2 July 2018 King's resignation is not related to any dispute or disagreement with the company or issues involving company's accounting practices or financial statements, Abraxas said. Houston Chronicle, "CFO of San Antonio oil company resigns," 7 June 2018 King's resignation is not related to any dispute or disagreement with the company or issues involving its accounting practices or financial statements, Abraxas said. Rye Druzin, San Antonio Express-News, "Abraxas CFO resigns," 7 June 2018 Keeping the Warriors’ core together for the duration will take some creative accounting. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Stop complaining and enjoy another Cavaliers-Warriors Finals," 29 May 2018 The measure was passed after administration officials identified the accounting practice as a problem. Adam Vaccaro,, "In reversal, MBTA and Charlie Baker seek change in budget rules," 19 May 2018

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

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First Known Use of accounting

circa 1676, in the meaning defined at sense 2b

History and Etymology for accounting

Middle English acountynge "reckoning, calculation," from gerund of accounten "to account entry 2"

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Phrases Related to accounting

there's no accounting for taste

Statistics for accounting

Last Updated

19 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for accounting

The first known use of accounting was circa 1676

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More Definitions for accounting



Financial Definition of accounting

What It Is

Accounting is the process of systematically recording, measuring, and communicating information about financial transactions.

How It Works

At the heart of accounting is the double-entry bookkeeping method. This involves making at least two recording entries for every transaction: a debit in one account and a credit in another account. The method helps prevent errors because the sum of the debits should equal the sum of the credits. The three major financial statements produced by accounting are the income statement, the balance sheet, and the cash flow statement.

Accounting can be done on a cash basis (cash accounting) or on an accrual basis (accrual accounting). Cash accounting records cash inflows and outflows in the period in which they occur. Accrual accounting records income and expenses in the period to which they are attributable rather than when cash payments come and go. For example, a check written in April for March's utilities would appear as a March expense under the accrual method and as an April expense under the cash method.

There are two general kinds of accounting. Financial accounting is the recording and communication of economic information in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and is primarily for external users. Managerial accounting is the recording and communication of economic information that may or may not be in accordance with GAAP and is for internal users. Other accounting specialty areas exist, such as tax accounting, oil and gas accounting, or forensic accounting.

There are two kinds of users of accounting information: internal users and external users. Internal users are usually company managers who use accounting information to decide how to plan and control operations on a daily and long-term basis. External users are existing or potential investors, creditors, analysts, financial advisers, regulatory authorities, unions, and the general public. They use accounting information to make a myriad of decisions about whether to buy, hold, sell, lend, continue a relationship, or make an agreement.

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the IRS, and other regulatory bodies set accounting standards and requirements for accounting frequency and presentation.

Why It Matters

The definition of accounting on InvestingAnswers.Accounting is tremendously important because it is the language of business, and it is at the root of making informed business decisions. Without accounting, managers would not know which products were successful, which business decisions were the right ones, and whether the company was earning money. It would not know how much to pay in taxes, whether to lease or buy an asset, or whether to merge with another company. In short, accounting doesn't just count the beans, it measures a company's success at meeting its goals and it helps investors understand how efficiently their economic resources are being used. This is why companies must be proficient in accounting in order to make good decisions.

Accounting can be controversial, in that accounting rules and methods are sometimes subject to interpretation or can appear to distort a company's true performance. This is another important reason that effective leaders and managers must thoroughly understand the accounting impact of their decisions.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of accounting

: the skill, system, or job of keeping the financial records of a business or person


ac·count·ing | \ə-ˈkau̇n-tiŋ \

Kids Definition of accounting

: the work of keeping a person's or a business's financial records

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Legal Definition of accounting 

1 : an often court-ordered presentment or examination of accounts a complete accounting would be necessary to determine the nature of the expendituresCase & Comment

2 : the settlement by judicial action of the assets of a partnership (as upon dissolution)

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Comments on accounting

What made you want to look up accounting? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

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