def·​i·​cit ˈde-fə-sət How to pronounce deficit (audio)
 British also  di-ˈfi-sət,
 or  ˈdē-fə-sət
: deficiency in amount or quality
a deficit in rainfall
: a lack or impairment in an ability or functional capacity
cognitive deficits
a hearing deficit
: disadvantage
scored two runs to overcome a 2–1 deficit
: an excess of expenditure over revenue
facing a deficit of $3 billion
raise taxes to help reduce the budget deficit
: a loss (see loss sense 4b) in business operations
the year's operating deficit

Examples of deficit in a Sentence

The government is facing a deficit of $3 billion. We will reduce the federal budget deficit. The team overcame a four-point deficit to win the game. She has a slight hearing deficit in her left ear.
Recent Examples on the Web That prompted the federal and state governments to delay tax filing deadlines by more than six months, a maneuver budget experts said played a part in the state’s deep budget deficit. Nicole Nixon, Sacramento Bee, 16 May 2024 Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone has cited the play of former Kansas guard Christian Braun as one of the keys to erasing a 2-0 deficit and securing a 3-2 lead in a second-round NBA Western Conference playoff series against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Gary Bedore, Kansas City Star, 16 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for deficit 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'deficit.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from French déficit, going back to Middle French, "item lacking in an inventory," borrowed from Latin dēficit "it is lacking," 3rd person singular present indicative of dēficere "to be lacking, run short, fail" — more at deficient

First Known Use

1782, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Time Traveler
The first known use of deficit was in 1782

Dictionary Entries Near deficit

Cite this Entry

“Deficit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


def·​i·​cit ˈdef-ə-sət How to pronounce deficit (audio)
: a deficiency in amount
especially : an excess of expenses over income

Medical Definition


ˈdef-(ə-)sət; British also di-ˈfis-ət, ˈdē-fə-sət
: a deficiency of a substance
a potassium deficit
also : a lack or impairment of a functional capacity
cognitive deficits

More from Merriam-Webster on deficit

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