col·​lat·​er·​al | \ kə-ˈla-t(ə-)rəl How to pronounce collateral (audio) \
plural collaterals

Definition of collateral

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : property (such as securities) pledged by a borrower to protect the interests of the lender
2 : a collateral relative A collateral inherited the estate.
3 : a branch of a bodily part (such as a vein)
4 : informational materials (such as brochures and fact sheets) used in selling a product or service to a prospective customer or buyer Attendees can expect to make approximately 50 new business contacts and should … have an ample supply of business cards, marketing collateral and anything else to help potential leads remember them.— Nancy Hollingshead and Laurie Winslow



Definition of collateral (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : accompanying as secondary or subordinate : concomitant digress into collateral matters
b : indirect no direct objection, but a few collateral ones
c : serving to support or reinforce : ancillary collateral evidence was presented at the trial
2 : belonging to the same ancestral stock but not in a direct line of descent — compare lineal sense 3a Brothers, cousins, uncles, and nephews are collateral kinsmen.
3 : parallel, coordinate, or corresponding in position, order, time, or significance collateral states like Athens and Sparta
4a : of, relating to, or being collateral used as security (as for payment of a debt or performance of a contract)
b : secured by collateral a collateral loan secured by stocks and bonds deposited with the lender

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Other Words from collateral


collaterality \ kə-​ˌla-​tə-​ˈra-​lə-​tē How to pronounce collaterality (audio) \ noun
collaterally \ kə-​ˈla-​t(ə-​)rə-​lē How to pronounce collaterally (audio) \ adverb

Did You Know?

If an official talking about some policy refers to a collateral issue, he or she means something that may be affected but isn't central to the discussion. To an anthropologist, your cousin would be called a collateral relative, since he or she (unlike your grandmother, brother, or daughter) is "off to the side" of your direct line of descent. As a noun, collateral means something provided to a lender as a guarantee of repayment. So if you take out a loan or mortgage to buy a car or house, the loan agreement usually states that the car or house is collateral that goes to the lender if the sum isn't paid.

Examples of collateral in a Sentence

Adjective the collateral effects of the government's policies
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The bank is working with Affinity Capital Exchange to let companies turn rewards programs into a standardized, exchangeable currency to be traded by institutional investors and used as collateral to raise capital, according to a statement Thursday. Michelle F Davis,, "JPMorgan Sees Frequent-Flyer Points as Alternative for Investors," 1 Oct. 2020 The SP Group instead wanted to borrow funds using the shares as collateral, a move Tata considers as potentially risky because the securities may end up falling in the hands of unfriendly investors. Upmanyu Trivedi,, "Mistry Family Wants to Exit Tata Group After Rebuff on Borrowing," 22 Sep. 2020 Any money the company has first goes to pay back its secured debt, those for which the company has put up assets as collateral. Alexandra Ossola, Quartz, "Why bankruptcy is rarely the end for retailers in dire straits," 17 Sep. 2020 Johnson got in a cab in Gresham and gave the driver his phone as collateral for a ride to Aloha, the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. oregonlive, "18-year-old trying to rob cab shot with own gun, Washington County Sheriff’s Office says," 15 Sep. 2020 Last September, China’s banking regulator and its agriculture ministry urged banks and insurers to better support pig farmers, including by developing pilot programs using hogs as collateral. Xie Yu And Lucy Craymer, WSJ, "China Serves Up Pig-Backed Loans for Its Hogtied Farmers," 14 Sep. 2020 Skoog said his company invested millions of dollars in software development, but the banks weren’t interested in taking that software as collateral. Rachel Siegel, Washington Post, "Congress needs to weigh in on expanding Main Street loan program to more businesses, Boston Fed chief says," 8 Sep. 2020 The contention was that Neiman’s corporate maneuvering had weakened their claim on Mytheresa as collateral. Katherine Doherty,, "Neiman Marcus Bankruptcy Ends, Marked by Arrest of Nemesis," 4 Sep. 2020 When Donald tried to gain control of his father’s estate, Fred confided in family members his fear that Donald was going to use his assets as collateral to save his failing businesses. Anne Diebel, The New York Review of Books, "Trumps on the Couch," 8 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The remaining quarter of users take loans from Aave, often to meet collateral obligations due elsewhere—a common occurrence in the cryptocurrency industry, where sudden price swings are the norm. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "Upstart Aave shows DeFi dreams are for real.," 7 Oct. 2020 Leaders can still take a look at things like the collateral consequences to sentencing and start bridging the gap between the corrections system and moving on to a life devoid of crime. Anchorage Daily News, "Candidate Q&A: Alaska House District 27 — Lance Pruitt," 3 Oct. 2020 Bail money is essentially collateral to ensure a person shows up for future court dates. Tyler Olson, Fox News, "Bail fund backed by Kamala Harris and Joe Biden staffers bailed out alleged child abuser, docs indicate," 17 Sep. 2020 There was not enough time or money to pursue collateral lines of investigation that did not facilitate the national defense. Jennet Conant, Smithsonian Magazine, "How a chemical weapons disaster in World War II led to a U.S. cover-up—and a new cancer treatment," 18 Aug. 2020 One question to ask is whether the harsh conditions of life behind bars are part of a criminal’s punishment or merely a collateral consequence of their sentence. Austin Sarat, The Conversation, "As the coronavirus rages in prisons, ethical issues of crime and punishment become more compelling," 6 Aug. 2020 That’s because decades ago, the Legislature decided judges need discretion to consider collateral consequences for defendants — for example, an immigrant with a family who could face deportation over a felony. Maryjo Webster, Star Tribune, "© 2020 StarTribune. All rights reserved.," 26 Sep. 2017 The convertible bonds were collateral for complex securities that helped SoftBank offload risk on its Wirecard investment last year., "Bath Iron Works lays off workers because of strike," 8 July 2020 Missed all of 2019-20 after tearing both the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee during development camp in 2019. Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Red Wings 2017 draft review: 11 picks, but only 2 projected for rebuild," 4 July 2020

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


1691, in the meaning defined at sense 2


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

History and Etymology for collateral

Adjective and Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin collateralis, from Latin com- + lateralis lateral

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Time Traveler for collateral

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for collateral

Last Updated

16 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Collateral.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for collateral


How to pronounce collateral (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of collateral

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: something that you promise to give someone if you cannot pay back a loan



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

formal : related but not in a direct or close way


col·​lat·​er·​al | \ kə-ˈlat-ə-rəl, -ˈla-trəl How to pronounce collateral (audio) \

Medical Definition of collateral

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : relating to or being branches of a bodily part collateral sprouting of nerves
2 : relating to or being part of the collateral circulation collateral circulatory vessels collateral blood flow



Medical Definition of collateral (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a branch especially of a blood vessel, nerve, or the axon of a nerve cell excitation of axon collaterals
2 : a bodily part (as a ligament) that is lateral in position


col·​lat·​er·​al | \ kə-ˈla-tə-rəl, -ˈla-trəl How to pronounce collateral (audio) \

Legal Definition of collateral

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : accompanying as a secondary fact, activity, or agency but subordinate to a main consideration
b : not directly relevant or material a collateral evidentiary matter a collateral issue
2 : belonging to the same ancestral stock but not in a direct line of descent — compare lineal
3a : of, relating to, or being collateral used as a security (as for payment of a debt)
b : secured by collateral a collateral loan

Other Words from collateral

collaterally adjective



Legal Definition of collateral (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a collateral relative
2 : property pledged by a borrower to protect the interests of the lender in the event of the borrower's default specifically, under Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code : property subject to a security interest

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