au·​dit | \ ˈȯ-dət How to pronounce audit (audio) \

Definition of audit

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a formal examination of an organization's or individual's accounts or financial situation The audit showed that the company had misled investors.
b : the final report of an audit
2 : a methodical examination and review an energy audit of the house


audited; auditing; audits

Definition of audit (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to perform an audit of or for audit the books audit the company
2 : to attend (a course) without working for or expecting to receive formal credit audited a foreign language course

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Other Words from audit


auditability \ ˌȯ-​də-​tə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce auditability (audio) \ noun
auditable \ ˌȯ-​di-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce auditable (audio) \ adjective
auditee \ ˌȯ-​də-​ˈtē How to pronounce auditee (audio) \ noun

Examples of audit in a Sentence

Noun The Internal Revenue Service selected us for an audit. You will need all your records if you are selected for audit by the IRS. Verb They audit the company books every year. The Internal Revenue Service audited him twice in 10 years. I audited an English literature class last semester.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But hiring contractors is three times more expensive, the audit states. Andrew J. Tobias, cleveland, "Ohio could save millions by keeping more road inspection work in-house, audit says," 9 Jan. 2020 The audit compared Portland’s test scores, how many classes freshmen pass, graduation rates and college-going rates to the state’s 12 other largest districts and two smaller districts in or near Portland. oregonlive, "From climate strikes to a football coach’s heroism: The 12 biggest education stories of 2019," 5 Jan. 2020 Jamaica's minister of tourism, Edmund Bartlett, ordered the audit following the rapes of two Detroit women who were assaulted at gunpoint in their all-inclusive resort. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, "12 big Michigan stories in 2019: Transmissions, terror and Trump," 27 Dec. 2019 The material was not sufficient to do the state audits, Hyatt wrote. Cynthia Howell, Arkansas Online, "State: Closed Arkansas charter school's chief in contempt," 23 Dec. 2019 The group plans to file a petition with more than 500 shoppers' signatures supporting the audit in upcoming weeks. Fortune, "‘We’re Confident There’s Fraud.’ Instacart Workers—Upset Over Dwindling Pay—Are Petitioning for a Dept. of Labor Audit," 20 Dec. 2019 The audit is likely to renew questions about how much the Sacklers should pay to resolve some 2,800 lawsuits that seek to hold Purdue accountable for the opioid crisis (click on #654). Ed Silverman, STAT, "Pharmalittle: Sacklers withdrew $10 billion from Purdue during opioid crisis; Purdue splits from PhRMA," 17 Dec. 2019 The union also points to a 2017 state audit that bolsters some of its claims, including that UC skirted competitive bidding and failed to justify the use of contractors over employees in many cases. Nanette Asimov,, "UC regents move toward limiting contracting out for services, unions say it’s not enough," 13 Nov. 2019 Last week, public prosecutors accused a former member of Rio’s state audit court as being the mastermind of the crime. Walter Brandimarte,, "Brazil’s Bolsonaro Furious as His Name Is Cited in Murder Case," 30 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The agency previously removed a rule that prevented a firm from auditing a fund while also borrowing money from a lender with a stake above a certain threshold in the same fund. Mark Maurer, WSJ, "SEC Proposes Loosening of Auditor Independence Rules," 30 Dec. 2019 The whistle-blower’s account focuses on the integrity of the government’s system for auditing the president and vice president’s tax returns., "The whistle-blower’s account focuses on the integrity of the government’s system for auditing the president and vice president’s tax returns.," 4 Oct. 2019 The whistleblower's account focuses on the integrity of the government's system for auditing the president's and vice president's tax returns. oregonlive, "IRS whistleblower reported that a Treasury political appointee might have tried to interfere in audit of Trump or Pence," 4 Oct. 2019 The whistleblower's account focuses on the integrity of the government's system for auditing the president's and vice president's tax returns. Author: Jeff Stein, Tom Hamburger, Josh Dawsey, Anchorage Daily News, "IRS whistleblower is said to report that Treasury appointee might have tried to interfere in audit of Trump or Pence," 4 Oct. 2019 Trump's lawyers filed a lawsuit in late July challenging the law, claiming that examining an official's state returns would shed no light on how the IRS audits federal returns. NBC News, "Judge temporarily blocks New York from turning over Trump's tax returns," 1 Aug. 2019 The decree, among other things, required the FPC to monitor the police department by auditing dash cam video and body camera footage as well as complaints against the department. Talis Shelbourne, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Community frustrated at Barrett and nominee for the Fire and Police Commission's executive director," 24 July 2019 But Rahn writes that WMATA was unwilling to comply with these audits and refused to provide data requested for auditing its fiscal year 2017 capital program. USA TODAY, "Kacey Musgraves, sneaker flap, skiing in July: News from around our 50 states," 3 July 2019 Any community can request supplies from WEC at no cost, regardless of whether the community is audited through the program. Rory Linnane, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin once had a 'model' voting rights program for people with disabilities. Officials have let it decline.," 23 Dec. 2019

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


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for audit


Middle English audyte "examination of accounts, judicial hearing," borrowed from Medieval Latin audītus "sense of hearing, act of listening, right to judicial hearing, examination of accounts," going back to Latin, "sense or act of hearing," from audīre "to hear" + -tus, suffix of action nouns — more at audible entry 1

Note: The sense "examination of accounts," attested relatively late in Medieval Latin, is based on the word audītor, which in the meaning "one who examines accounts" is recorded much earlier—see auditor.


Middle English audyten, derivative of audyte audit entry 1; in sense 2 back-formation from auditor

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Time Traveler for audit

Time Traveler

The first known use of audit was in the 15th century

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Statistics for audit

Last Updated

15 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Audit.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 January 2020.

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More Definitions for audit



Financial Definition of audit

What It Is

In the tax world, an audit refers to the review of a taxpayer's tax return for accuracy.

In the accounting world, an audit is the examination and verification of a company's financial statements and records, and in the United States, examination for their compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

How It Works

Accounting professionals, usually Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), perform audits. These auditors must be independent, unbiased, and qualified to provide an auditor's report (also called an opinion).

There are four major steps in the audit process:

-- Defining the terms of the engagement between the auditor and the client
Planning the scope and conduct of the audit
Compiling the audited information
Reporting the results of the index audit

The terms of an engagement are usually set forth in an engagement letter that is written by the auditor and signed by the client. The letter documents the auditor's role and addresses any specific issues. The audit plan defines the scope of the audit and key deadlines. Quite often the company's audit committee (primarily composed of board members) reviews and approves the audit plan.

One of the goals of a financial audit is to find and correct any material misstatements, which are statements that are wrong, missing, or incomplete whether made deliberately or accidentally. This is why auditors must be able to drill down to the source of each piece of data (this is called the audit trail). To compile the information necessary to do this, an auditor does many things. For example, the auditor tests the transactions and account balances that make up the financial statements as well as the design and operation of the systems that generated those statements.

Auditors also employ sampling techniques, whereby they evaluate less than 100% of the items within an account or class of transactions as a way to understand the nature of the entire account or class of transactions. For example, an auditor will usually not check every expense report in a large company to make sure each has receipts attached. Instead, the auditor will pull a random sample of the reports, examine those, and draw conclusions about the quality of the information and controls related to expense reports. Auditors also analyze significant trends or ratios and question changes or variances from predicted amounts. Further, they investigate the reasonableness of management's accounting estimates of uncertain events or events that are likely to occur (such as the outcome of litigation).

Auditors perform their audit procedures in accordance with the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB), which is a committee of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC). The IAASB develops standards and guidance that are considered best practices for auditors. The IFAC also sets ethical and independence standards for auditors and in particular emphasizes that auditors should be, and be seen to be, free from any influence that might jeopardize their independence. The SEC and other regulatory bodies determine which types of entities are subject to audit as well as the kind of information on which the auditor should report.

Audits can take a few days or several months, depending on the complexity of the financial statements and the degree to which the auditor inspects the company's financial statements and controls. When the audit is complete, the auditor publishes the audit findings in the auditor's report, which prefaces the financial statements in the company's public reports and filings. This report is usually the only public document available about the audit process, but the auditor often issues private reports to the company's management or audit committee as well as to regulatory authorities. The index auditor keeps extensive written records, called working papers, that provide the basis and support for each of its opinions.

When an auditor feels that a company's financial statements are fair and accurate, it issues an unqualified opinion and does so using a standard reporting template (this is why many opinions read the same way). An audit report also includes a statement that the international audit was conducted in accordance with GAAP. When the auditor cannot give an unqualified opinion, it issues a qualified opinion, which lists the reasons for the auditor's concern about the company's financial statements and controls and the possible effects on the financial statements. The auditor is not responsible for auditing transactions that occur after the date of the audit report.

Why It Matters

An audit's objective is to help the auditor form an opinion of the trueness and fairness of a company's financial statements. This is done for the sake of the shareholders, regulatory authorities, lenders, and other people with an interest in the health of the company.

There is always a chance that an auditor gives an unqualified opinion when in fact the financial statements are materially misstated. This is called audit risk, and the auditor must use his or her judgment about how much is acceptable and what errors are material enough to warrant the restatement of the financials. In these situations, the definition of the word material becomes especially important, because shareholders, lenders, and other interested parties make crucial decisions based on the quality of the information in a company's financial statements.

It is very important to understand that auditors are not responsible for detecting all instances of fraud or financial misrepresentation. This is the responsibility of the management of the company. However, the auditor should conduct the audit in a manner that would reasonably detect at least some material misstatements caused by fraud or error. In those cases, the auditor should probe the issue and pursue the audit trail for questionable transactions. To mitigate these errors and problems, companies often have employees known as internal auditors who perform ongoing audit functions. These internal auditors review not only the company's financial statements but also the company's control practices and other critical operations and systems. Internal auditors are often, but not always, accountants.

Source: Investing Answers


How to pronounce audit (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of audit

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a complete and careful examination of the financial records of a business or person
: a careful check or review of something



English Language Learners Definition of audit (Entry 2 of 2)

: to check the financial records of (a business or person) : to perform an audit on (a business or person)
US : to attend a course at a college or university without having to do any of the course work and without receiving credit


au·​dit | \ ˈȯ-dət How to pronounce audit (audio) \

Kids Definition of audit

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a thorough check of business accounts


audited; auditing

Kids Definition of audit (Entry 2 of 2)

: to thoroughly check the business records of

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au·​dit | \ ˈȯ-dət How to pronounce audit (audio) \

Legal Definition of audit

: a formal examination of financial records often to uncover fraud or inaccurate tax returns also : the final report of such an examination

Other Words from audit

audit verb

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More from Merriam-Webster on audit

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for audit

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with audit

Spanish Central: Translation of audit

Nglish: Translation of audit for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of audit for Arabic Speakers

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