ac·​cru·​al | \ ə-ˈkrü-əl How to pronounce accrual (audio) \

Definition of accrual

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the action or process of accruing something money gained by the accrual of interest
2 : something that accrues or has accrued an employee's vacation accruals



Definition of accrual (Entry 2 of 2)

: relating to or being a method of accounting that recognizes income when earned and expenses when incurred regardless of when cash is received or disbursed (see disburse sense 1a) — compare cash entry 2

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of accrual in a Sentence


had an accrual of $100 through interest on my savings account last year

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The movement here is the slow accrual of affection. Ron Charles Critic, Washington Post, "Emma Donoghue’s ‘Akin’ sends an odd couple to France," 10 Sep. 2019 The large-scale paintings in the exhibition were formed through the accrual and erosion of layers of thinned oil paint., "Community News For The Windham Edition," 6 Sep. 2019 The large-scale paintings in the exhibition were formed through the accrual and erosion of layers of thinned oil paint., "Community News For The Windham Edition," 6 Sep. 2019 Also included are new terms that allow for a greater accrual of vacation days based on years of service, with a maximum of 406.4 hours a year for veterans with more than 25 years on the job. David Hernandez, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Imperial Beach approves new contract with fire union," 30 Aug. 2019 Excluding the accrual for the expected FTC fine, Facebook’s expenses rose 34 percent from a year earlier. Washington Post, "Facebook Proves Adept at Beating Lowered Expectations," 25 Apr. 2019 The large-scale paintings in the exhibition were formed through the accrual and erosion of layers of thinned oil paint., "Community News For The Windham Edition," 6 Sep. 2019 In terms of time off, the contract includes a new cap on accrual of sick leave for new hires, who will be allowed to accumulate no more than 784 hours. David Hernandez, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Imperial Beach approves new contract with fire union," 30 Aug. 2019 Businesses with 15 or fewer employees can cap their workers' paid sick leave accruals at 48 hours a year instead of 64 hours. Hayat Norimine, Dallas News, "Texas AG Ken Paxton joins sick leave lawsuit against Dallas," 7 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Bronin has also negotiated with several city unions to revise sick and vacation accrual policies. Jenna Carlesso, Courant Community, "Former Hartford Police Chief Named Security Director For City Schools," 27 Apr. 2018 Under accrual basis accounting, expenses are matched with the related revenues and are reported when the expense occurs, not when the cash is paid. Jeff Piorkowski/special To,, "Mayor Brennan replaces University Heights' finance director," 17 Apr. 2018 Ones with gross receipts below $25 million can use the simpler cash method of accounting rather than the accrual method; the previous ceiling was $5 million. Conrad De Aenlle, New York Times, "Can You Get Rich From the New Tax Law by Becoming a Company?," 23 Feb. 2018 Generally, manufacturers and other companies that have inventory are required to use the accrual method, but current law exempts businesses with average annual revenue of $5 million or less. Washington Post, "5 things small business owners should know about tax bills," 13 Dec. 2017 In addition, the board increased Shoenberger’s vacation accrual rate from 6.5 hours to eight hours per pay period. Luke Money, Daily Pilot, "Mesa Water District approves pay increase and bonus for general manager," 20 Dec. 2017 Employers who want to avoid the carry-over requirements can skip the accrual process and just offer the maximum amount of sick time at the start of the year. Alexia Elejalde-ruiz,, "Employers call new Cook County sick leave law an administrative nightmare," 29 June 2017 Changing that and reducing future benefit accrual rates could profoundly reduce California pension costs. Mercury News Editorial Board, The Mercury News, "Editorial: Pension reform in hands of California Supreme Court," 16 Jan. 2017 The deal is worth about $240,000 and included signing bonuses and an increased vacation accrual cap. Greg Mellen, Orange County Register, "Fountain Valley’s proposed 2017-18 budget includes cash for new fire and police hires, road and park improvements," 18 May 2017

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

See More

First Known Use of accrual


1804, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1912, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for accrual


accrue + -al entry 2


derivative of accrual entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about accrual

Statistics for accrual

Last Updated

12 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for accrual

The first known use of accrual was in 1804

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for accrual



Financial Definition of accrual

What It Is

Accruals are records of revenue and expenses in the periods in which they are incurred. They are a key component of the accrual method of accounting.

How It Works

Company XYZ must insure one of its buildings. The insurance company bills Company XYZ $600 every six months (one bill in January, the next in July). If each bill is for six months' coverage, then under the accrual method, Company XYZ would not record a $600 expense in January and a $600 expense in July (doing so would mean Company XYZ was using the cash method); it would instead record a $100 expense each month for the whole year. That is, Company would match the expense to the periods in which it is incurred: $100 for January, $100 for February, $100 for March, and so on. As you can see, accruals recognize economic events in certain periods regardless of when actual cash transactions occur.

Accrual accounting is the opposite of cash accounting, which recognizes economic events only when cash is exchanged. The accrual method is more common than the cash method, and the IRS often requires companies to use accruals when they have more than a certain level of revenues or carry inventory.

Why It Matters

Although it is more complex, harder to implement and harder to maintain than the cash method of accounting, most analysts agree that accruals provide a more accurate picture of a company's performance. That's because in any given accounting period, revenues are associated with their corresponding expenses, which gives a truer picture of the real costs of producing the revenue in a given period.

Additionally, accruals allow companies to reflect the fact that sales may have been made and expenses incurred even if cash has not changed hands yet (as is often the case with sales made on credit and similar circumstances). This in turn produces financial statements that are comparable over time.

However, one of the big drawbacks of accruals is that they tend to obscure the nature of the company's actual cash position (e.g., a company may show millions in sales but only have $10 in its cash account because its customers haven't paid yet).

Source: Investing Answers


ac·​cru·​al | \ ə-ˈkrü-əl How to pronounce accrual (audio) \

Legal Definition of accrual

1 : the action or process of accruing claim must be brought within two years of the date of accrual
2a : something that accrues especially : an amount of money that periodically accumulates for a specific purpose (as payment of taxes or interest)
b : something that has accrued during a specified period

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on accrual

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with accrual

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for accrual

Spanish Central: Translation of accrual

Nglish: Translation of accrual for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of accrual for Arabic Speakers

Comments on accrual

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


tired or exhausted

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!