ac·​count·​ing | \ ə-ˈkau̇n-tiŋ How to pronounce accounting (audio) \

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 Negotiations over Adams’ return to the Capitol hit an impasse just a few weeks ago over several details, including the assignment of a supervisor and accounting for time lost under the state’s retirement system. Andrew Oxford, azcentral, "Arizona Senate policy adviser back on staff after jury's decision in discrimination lawsuit," 27 Nov. 2019 Buzz: Cooper Fawcett, Jacob Longway and Tony Esposita had goals for the Seminoles (3-1-1) with an own goal for Bolles (4-1) accounting for the other tally. Steve Gorches,, "Orlando area high school scores, top performers for Nov. 25," 25 Nov. 2019 Maryland led 45-24 at half, with Austin accounting for more than a third of the Terps’ points. Baltimore Sun Staff,, "State basketball roundup: Loyola men surge to victory in Cayman Islands Classic," 25 Nov. 2019 Some 91 California ZIP codes made the top 100 list, with San Francisco's Bay Area accounting for 51 of the pricey housing markets, according to Property Shark's data. Rachel Layne, CBS News, "The 100 most expensive ZIP codes for housing in the U.S.," 22 Nov. 2019 Approximately 14% of its users have started listening to podcasts, with the US accounting for the largest share of streams. Matthew De Silva, Quartz, "Spotify wants to treat podcasts like music playlists," 19 Nov. 2019 The new plans are built on WW’s SmartPoints system and ZeroPoint foods, and are tailored toward helping individuals lose weight after accounting for specifics such as eating habits and activity rates., "Amgen cutting almost 150 jobs in Cambridge," 12 Nov. 2019 These are by far the most common kind, accounting for up to 75 percent of kidney stones, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "7 Signs & Symptoms of Kidney Stones You Need to Know," 12 Nov. 2019 Every administration has wrestled with accounting for troop levels, attempting to balance national security with transparency, but since late 2017 the Trump administration hasn't publicly released any troop levels for Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. NBC News, "How many troops are serving in America's legacy wars? We still don't really know.," 10 Nov. 2019

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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Time Traveler for accounting

Time Traveler

The first known use of accounting was circa 1676

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Statistics for accounting

Last Updated

30 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Accounting.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 6 December 2019.

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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


How to pronounce accounting (audio)

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 How to pronounce accounting (audio) \

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).


very cautious or careful

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