noun \ˈdet\

Definition of debt

  1. 1 :  sin, trespass

  2. 2 :  something owed :  obligation <unable to pay off his debts>

  3. 3 :  a state of owing <deeply in debt>

  4. 4 :  the common-law action for the recovery of money held to be due


play \-ləs\ adjective

Examples of debt in a sentence

  1. He is trying to pay off gambling debts.

  2. The company has run up huge debts.

  3. Their debts are piling up.

  4. He's been working three jobs in an attempt to get out of debt.

  5. The company was in debt but is now turning a profit.

  6. I am deep in debt.

  7. I'm thousands of dollars in debt.

  8. She went into debt to pay for college.

  9. I'm worried that we will fall into debt.

Origin and Etymology of debt

Middle English dette, debte, from Anglo-French dette something owed, from Vulgar Latin *debita, from Latin, plural of debitum debt, from neuter of debitus, past participle of debēre to owe, from de- + habēre to have — more at give

First Known Use: 13th century

DEBT Defined for English Language Learners


noun \ˈdet\

Definition of debt for English Language Learners

  • : an amount of money that you owe to a person, bank, company, etc.

  • : the state of owing money to someone or something

  • : the fact that you have been influenced or helped by someone or something

DEBT Defined for Kids


noun \ˈdet\

Definition of debt for Students

  1. 1 :  1sin 1 <We ask forgiveness of our debts.>

  2. 2 :  something owed to another

  3. 3 :  the condition of owing something <I am in debt to you for all your help.>

Law Dictionary



Legal Definition of debt

  1. 1 :  something owed: as a :  a specific sum of money or a performance due another especially by agreement (as a loan agreement) <to pay the debts…of the United States — U.S. Constitution art. I> <a debt for alimony> b :  an obligation to pay or perform on another's claim <discharged the debt> — compare asset, equity 4 Editor's note: It is often up to the courts to decide what is or is not a debt under various laws. Courts disagree whether criminal restitution is a debt under the Bankruptcy Code. antecedent debt :  debt that is incurred prior to a property transfer paying or securing the debt — compare preference bad debt :  a debt that cannot be collected Editor's note: An income tax deduction is allowed for bad debts. consumer debt :  debt that is incurred by an individual primarily for the purchase of consumer goods or services — compare consumer credit judgment debt :  a debt established by a judgment and enforceable by a legal process (as an execution of judgment or attachment) c :  a state of owing <in debt> d :  the aggregate of money owed <the national debt>

  2. 2 :  the common-law action for the recovery of a specified sum of money or a sum that can be simply and certainly determined —called also action of debt, writ of debt — compare assumpsit, covenant

Origin and Etymology of debt

Old French dette, ultimately from Latin debita, plural of debitum debt, from neuter of debitus, past participle of debere to owe

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a harsh rebuke

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