ar·rear | \ə-ˈrir \

Definition of arrear 

1 : the state of being behind in the discharge of obligations usually used in plural They were in arrears with the rent. [=they had failed to pay the rent when it was due]

2a : an unfinished duty usually used in plural arrears of work that have piled up

b : an unpaid and overdue debt usually used in plural paying off the arrears of the past several months

Examples of arrear in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Did the countries in arrears count toward a quorum? New York Times, "In a Chemical Weapons Debate, Russia Tries to Change the Subject," 26 June 2018 Connie Jones was in arrears for tens of thousands of dollars. Michael Kiefer, azcentral, "Scottsdale shooting suspect left divorce full of discord, YouTube channel full of grudges," 4 June 2018 At the end of 2016, the state was reckoned to be almost €33bn in arrears. The Economist, "A bizarre new government takes shape in Italy," 24 May 2018 Including a daily rental rate of $79.46, which has been accruing since March 14, the day after the city posted a three-day notice to pay rent, McVea is now about $30,500 in arrears. Hillary Davis,, "Newport trying to collect $30,000 in back rent from tenant of city-owned apartment," 4 May 2018 In 2013, city records show that a lien was removed from the apartment after Mr. Brassner paid $21,668 in arrears and fees. William Neuman, New York Times, "Trump Tower Smoke Sensors Alerted Firefighters to Deadly Blaze," 9 Apr. 2018 Someone’s account could be incorrectly marked in arrears, and their water service shut down. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "Atlanta's Boring Ransomware Attack," 28 Mar. 2018 The firm also revealed the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority started a new enforcement investigation this month into how the firm treated customers in default or arrears. Stephen Morris,, "Barclays Sees Turnaround Gathering Momentum as Dividend Boosted," 22 Feb. 2018 Instead, Germany produced an astonishing comeback, Max Morlock reducing the arrears before Helmut Rahn scored twice., "World Cup Countdown: 16 Weeks to Go – Ferenc Puskás, the Galloping Major Who Led the Magical Magyars," 1 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'arrear.' 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 arrear

1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for arrear

Middle English arrere behind, backward, from Anglo-French arere, from Vulgar Latin *ad retro backward, from Latin ad to + retro backward, behind — more at at, retro-

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in arrears with

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The first known use of arrear was in 1586

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More Definitions for arrear


ar·rear | \ə-ˈrir \

Legal Definition of arrear 

1a : the condition of being behind in one's duties or especially financial obligations usually used in pl. in arrears with the rent

b : the condition of being due at the end of a term rather than the beginning usually used in pl. mortgage payments are made in arrears

2 : an unpaid and overdue debt usually used in pl. paying off the arrears of the previous owners

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


to reject or criticize sharply

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