ar·​rear | \ ə-ˈrir How to pronounce arrear (audio) \

Definition of arrear

1 : the state of being behind in the discharge of obligations usually used in pluralThey were in arrears with the rent. [=they had failed to pay the rent when it was due]
2a : an unfinished duty usually used in pluralarrears of work that have piled up
b : an unpaid and overdue debt usually used in pluralpaying off the arrears of the past several months

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Examples of arrear in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web China appears to be up to date in its payments; there are no amounts in arrears from prior years on WHO's report. Fox News, "Coronavirus: US gives 10 times the amount of money to WHO than China," 11 Apr. 2020 The country has virtually no arrears pending to the IMF. Golnar Motevalli,, "Coronavirus Surge Sends Iran to IMF for First Time in 60 Years," 12 Mar. 2020 Zimbabwe, locked out of outbreak aid programs because of debt arrears, has thrown itself at the mercy of organizations including the International Monetary Fund with no response so far., "U.S. Case Rise Slows; Gilead Sets Remdesivir Use: Virus Update," 7 Feb. 2020 Or, your loan could be recalculated and the arrears added to the loan balance, which might make your monthly payments go up. ■ A repayment plan. Michelle Singletary,, "Ninety days -- and then what? Yes, lenders are giving borrowers a break on their loans. But when the relief ends, big lump-sum payments loom.," 12 Apr. 2020 Eligible customers would receive a $25 monthly credit toward current water bills with any arrears suspended for one to two years. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, "Flint needs water, volunteers as coronavirus worsens longstanding health crisis," 24 Mar. 2020 Somewhere between the case of an isolated bankruptcy (American Airlines) and mass default (Indonesia, with 70% of businesses in arrears) is the borderline between individual and systemic bankruptcy. Peter Coy,, "Stiglitz Calls for ‘Super Chapter 11’ to Avoid Systemic Collapse," 28 Apr. 2020 Gasoline taxes are collected two months in arrears and expected to drop 20-25 percent. Lee Roop |, al, "Huntsville expects $15-$20M financial hit from coronavirus," 26 Apr. 2020 Currently, the service department and some part-timers are paid two weeks in arrears. John Benson, cleveland, "Parma Heights’ attempt to unify pay periods leads to employee confusion," 20 Apr. 2020

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, in plural arrers, arrears "balance due, unpaid debt," borrowed from Anglo-French arere, arrere (also sometimes in plural) "state of being behind in payment," noun derivative of arere, ariere, adverb, "back, backward, behind" (also continental Old French), going back to Vulgar Latin *ad retrō, from Latin ad "to, toward" + retrō "toward the rear, in the rear, behind" — more at at entry 1, retro-

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Time Traveler for arrear

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The first known use of arrear was in 1586

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Cite this Entry

“Arrear.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for arrear


ar·​rear | \ ə-ˈrir How to pronounce arrear (audio) \

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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