as·​set | \ ˈa-ˌset How to pronounce asset (audio) also -sət \
plural assets

Definition of asset

1 assets plural
a : the property of a deceased person subject by law to the payment of his or her debts and legacies
b : the entire property of a person, association, corporation, or estate applicable or subject to the payment of debts
2 : advantage, resource His wit is his chief asset. sometimes used euphemistically or humorously in the plural to refer to parts of a person's body (such as the breasts or buttocks) that are considered attractive We tested RLS's eight-panel shorts on a one-day bike ride. … there was enough padding for saddle comfort, yet not so much that it exaggerated our assets.— Vicky LowryGreenberg hid his athletic physique under baggy clothes … until he realized that tighter jeans and knits show off his assets better.— Sandra Nygaard
3a : an item of value owned
b assets plural : the items on a balance sheet showing the book value of property owned
4 : something useful in an effort to foil or defeat an enemy: such as
a : a piece of military equipment
b : spy

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Examples of asset in a Sentence

The state's natural assets include mountains and beautiful lakes. rumors persisted that CIA assets were behind the coup d'état
Recent Examples on the Web The discount also might become a reality due to new regulations for asset managers. Carol Ryan, WSJ, "A Bill Is Coming Due for Greener Offices," 7 May 2021 The results of the study have already drawn the attention of pension funds and other asset managers. Hbs Working Knowledge, Forbes, "To Fight Climate Change, Should Green Investors Reconsider Big Oil?," 5 May 2021 Another crucial asset was a heat-stable vaccine, developed around 1950, that could be stored for 30 days unrefrigerated, an enormous advantage in distributing vaccines to small villages that often lacked refrigeration and electricity. New York Times, "How Humanity Gave Itself an Extra Life," 27 Apr. 2021 Indeed banks, asset managers, and private equity firms have been ramping up their climate teams in the past year, pushing salaries up by 30-50%, said Jon Williams, partner in sustainability and climate change at PwC UK. The Christian Science Monitor, "Why some climate scientists are joining the finance industry," 15 Apr. 2021 Recently, however, many investors, including major asset managers such as BlackRock, have called on governments to require climate disclosures, especially as those investors work to align their own portfolios with the Paris climate agreement. Abby Smith, Washington Examiner, "Joe Biden considers ordering climate confessions," 12 Apr. 2021 Large asset managers like BlackRock, Fidelity and Vanguard typically vote in favor of CEO pay. NBC News, "CEOs of public U.S. firms earn 320 times as much as workers. Even some CEOS say the gap is too big.," 7 Apr. 2021 Casey Harrell, who works with Australia’s Sunrise Project, an N.G.O. that urges asset managers to divest, believes that the BlackRock system likely directs at least twenty-five trillion in assets. Bill Mckibben, The New Yorker, "The Powerful New Financial Argument for Fossil-Fuel Divestment," 3 Apr. 2021 For example, in 2016 and 2017 the FSOC investigated the potential damage caused by massive withdrawals at open-end mutual funds, which forced asset managers to sell off assets, creating fire sales. David Goldman, CNN, "Elizabeth Warren grills Janet Yellen: Why isn't BlackRock 'too big to fail?'," 24 Mar. 2021

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for asset

back-formation from assets, singular, sufficient property to pay debts and legacies, from Anglo-French assetz, from asez enough, from Vulgar Latin *ad satis, from Latin ad to + satis enough — more at at, sad

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Time Traveler for asset

Time Traveler

The first known use of asset was in the 14th century

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Statistics for asset

Last Updated

10 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Asset.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for asset



English Language Learners Definition of asset

: a valuable person or thing
: something that is owned by a person, company, etc.


as·​set | \ ˈa-ˌset How to pronounce asset (audio) \

Kids Definition of asset

1 : someone or something that provides a benefit Your sense of humor is an asset. She is an asset to the class.
2 assets plural : all the property belonging to a person or an organization


as·​set | \ ˈa-ˌset, -sət How to pronounce asset (audio) \

Legal Definition of asset

1 : the entire property of a person, business organization, or estate that is subject to the payment of debts used in pl. — compare equity
2 : an item of property owned
admitted asset
: an asset allowed by law to be included in determining the financial condition of an insurance company — compare nonadmitted asset in this entry
appointive asset
: an asset in an estate that is to be distributed under a power of appointment
capital asset
: a tangible or intangible long-term asset especially that is not regularly bought or sold as part of the owner's business specifically : any asset classified as a capital asset by law (as section 1221 of the Internal Revenue Code)
current asset
: a short-term asset (as inventory, an account receivable, or a note) that can be quickly converted into cash
equitable asset
: an asset especially in an estate that is subject to the payment of debts only in a court of equity
fixed asset
: a tangible asset (as a piece of equipment) that is of a permanent or long-term nature
intangible asset
: an asset (as goodwill or a patent) that does not have physical form
marital asset
: an asset acquired by either spouse or both spouses during a marriage

Note: Marital assets are generally subject to equitable distribution on divorce.

net assets
1 : the excess of assets over liabilities

called also net worth

2 : admitted assets considered as a whole
net quick assets
: the excess of quick assets over current liabilities
nonadmitted asset
: an asset not allowed by law to be included in determining the financial condition of an insurance company because it cannot be quickly converted into cash without incurring a loss — compare admitted asset in this entry
quick assets
: cash, accounts receivable, and other current assets except inventories
tangible asset
: an asset that has physical form and is capable of being appraised at an actual or approximate value
wasting asset
: property (as a copyright or oil well) that will eventually expire or be used up and lose its value

History and Etymology for asset

back-formation from assets, singular, sufficient property to pay debts and legacies, from Anglo-French asetz, from Old French asez enough

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