debt·​or | \ ˈde-tər How to pronounce debtor (audio) \

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 According to the company’s statement, Granite City secured a $5 million debtor in possession loan, subject to bankruptcy court approval, to fund operations through the auction and sale process. Helmut Schmidt / Forum News Service, Twin Cities, "Granite City restaurant group files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy," 18 Dec. 2019 Arrest warrants were issued against debtors who owed as little as $28. Anjali Tsui, ProPublica, "They Loan You Money. Then They Get a Warrant for Your Arrest.," 3 Dec. 2019 Just seven other states were identified as having less favorable laws for protecting debtors. al, "Alabamians have little protection from asset seizures for unpaid debt, report finds," 19 Nov. 2019 The hospital system owns its own collection agency to pursue debtors. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Tax-exempt hospital sues thousands of poor people while making millions," 27 June 2019 There are approximately 308,000 unique debtors, who combined have close to 400,000 total unpaid debts, according to Maryland Auto Chief Executive Officer Mark McCurdy. Eric Myers,, "Deadline nears for Maryland uninsured motorist debt amnesty," 16 Nov. 2019 The committee can hire lawyers and financial experts paid for by the debtor — in this case, Purdue, said Robert Dammon, dean of the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Victims gain a voice to help guide Purdue Pharma bankruptcy," 6 Oct. 2019 Exactly how this plays out depends largely on what type of bankruptcy case the debtor files. Lindsey Simon, The Conversation, "How corporate bankruptcy works," 12 Sep. 2019 This provides a very small window for the current homeowners (debtors) to find a buyer in order to prevent the home moving into foreclosure. Daisy Hernandez, Popular Mechanics, "How To Buy a Foreclosed Home," 27 July 2019

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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Time Traveler for debtor

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for debtor

Last Updated

23 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Debtor.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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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


How to pronounce debtor (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of debtor

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


debt·​or | \ ˈde-tər How to pronounce debtor (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on debtor

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with debtor

Spanish Central: Translation of debtor

Nglish: Translation of debtor for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of debtor for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about debtor

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).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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