debt·or | \ˈde-tər \

Definition of debtor 

1 : one guilty of neglect or violation of duty

2 : one who owes a debt

Examples of debtor in a Sentence

The debtor agrees to pay the debt over a three-year period.

Recent Examples on the Web

Warren has long been an advocate for debtors, and has pressed for more accountability for loan servicers and debt collectors. Natalie Kitroeff,, "Bill would protect driving licenses in student loan defaults," 14 June 2018 Steep falls since early 2016 have been key to the surprising strength of this housing cycle and better finances for China’s debtors. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, "Defaults of Crises Past Haunt China’s Markets," 29 May 2018 Court filings from June 29 show that nearly all the schools being shut down are listed as debtors in that case. Dawn Rhodes,, "Faced with falling enrollment and federal scrutiny, for-profit art schools in Chicago, Schaumburg to close," 6 July 2018 States had been using license revocation as a tool to strong-arm debtors into restarting payments on their loans. Natalie Kitroeff, New York Times, "Rubio and Warren Seek to Protect Licenses of Student-Loan Debtors," 14 June 2018 The problem arises because to borrow at reasonable interest rates, the U.S. government, like every other debtor, can never default. Joel Naroff,, "Most politicians ignore the real debt problem: Interest," 19 Apr. 2018 Viacom has submitted its own objection to the assumption of contracts in the transaction between the debtor and Lantern. Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, "Weinstein Co. Buyer Lantern Investigating David Glasser for Interfering in $289M Sale," 11 July 2018 More than 80 percent of the social security numbers used in the 500 petitions filed either did not correspond to the debtor or were not related to any record that could be found, Snodgrass said. Cassie Dickman, sacbee, "Federal grand jury indicts Elk Grove woman on 18 counts related to bankruptcy scheme," 29 June 2018 That changed this week when the Tokyo District Court halted Mt. Gox’s bankruptcy proceedings and commenced a legal process known as civil rehabilitation, allowing it to distribute the remaining Mt. Gox assets to ex-customers and debtors. Jen Wieczner, Fortune, "$1 Billion Bitcoins Lost in Mt. Gox Hack to Be Returned to Victims," 22 June 2018

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

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for debtor

Last Updated

16 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for debtor

The first known use of debtor was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for debtor



Financial Definition of debtor

What It Is

A debtor is a person or entity legally required to provide a payment, service or other benefit to another person or entity (the obligee). Debtors are often also called borrowers or obligors in contracts.

How It Works

Companies that issue bonds are perhaps the most well-known debtors. They must provide their bondholders with set interest and principal payments on specified dates and in some cases must be willing to convert that debt into equity at specified ratios or repay the debt early if certain events occur.

However, a debtor also might be required to perform particular tasks or even refrain from performing certain actions. When a debtor fails to meet its obligations, the debtor is sometimes considered in default.

Why It Matters

Debtors are subject to contractual obligations. As such, if they do not fulfill their obligations, the creditors usually have the right to seek recourse in court. A significant amount of reputational damage can also occur when an entity, especially a public company, fails to meet its obligations. In some cases, even the speculation that a debtor might not fulfill its obligations can cause its stock price to go down and make it very difficult to obtain financing or other help later.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of debtor

: a person, organization, government, etc., that owes money


debt·or | \ˈde-tər \

Kids Definition of debtor

: a person who owes a debt

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Legal Definition of debtor 

: a person who owes a debt — see also bankrupt — compare creditor, obligee, obligor

Note: The Bankruptcy Act of 1978 calls the person concerned in a bankruptcy case the “debtor” as opposed to the “bankrupt.”

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Comments on debtor

What made you want to look up debtor? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

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