de·​lin·​quen·​cy | \ di-ˈliŋ-kwən-sē How to pronounce delinquency (audio) , -ˈlin- \
plural delinquencies

Definition of delinquency

1a : a delinquent act
b : conduct that is out of accord with accepted behavior or the law especially : juvenile delinquency
2 : a debt on which payment is overdue

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Examples of delinquency in a Sentence

They tried to steer him away from delinquency by giving him a job in their store. She's been charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. a series of minor delinquencies a high rate of delinquency
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Recent Examples on the Web As of January, the delinquency rate for loans tied to apartment buildings was just 2.3%. Stephen Gandel, CBS News, "Despite eviction ban complaints, big landlords report record profits," 30 Mar. 2021 Jacksonville Beach City Attorney Christopher Ambrosio, 48, was arrested for lewd/lascivious molestation of a child older than 12 but younger than 16 and contributing to the delinquency of a child, WTLV-WJXX reported. Garfield Hylton,, "Florida city’s attorney faces charges for child molestation: report," 25 Mar. 2021 In the 1980s, Minnesota opened to the public delinquency hearings of juveniles 16 or older who were charged with a felony. James Densley, Star Tribune, "Restoring humanity to juvenile justice is overdue," 14 Mar. 2021 The city typically shuts off water to properties when there’s an account delinquency of $100. Gloria Casas,, "Elgin to help set up graduated payment plans for people with more than $1,000 in unpaid water bills," 27 Feb. 2021 These problems are to some extent intertwined: While most do not go on to lives of violence, criminality or delinquency, victimized children are at greater risk of doing harm to others. Emma Brown, Washington Post, "We can’t solve the problem of violence against girls and women without also addressing violence against men and boys.," 22 Feb. 2021 As of mid-July, the high-delinquency counties saw an average of 4.3 cases per 1,000, while other counties saw 2.8 cases out of 1,000, according to the report. Time, "Millions of Tenants Behind on Rent, Small Landlords Struggling, Eviction Moratoriums Expiring Soon: Inside the Next Housing Crisis," 18 Feb. 2021 Exposure to violence at home and peer delinquency are greater risk factors, according to Dr. Kowert. Julie Jargon, WSJ, "Violent Videogames Aren’t Ruining Your Kids—but It’s Good to Discuss Them," 6 Feb. 2021 Unpaid water bills across the state are estimated to be $1 billion, representing the delinquency of more than 1.6 million households, or nearly 12% of the total. Kurtis Alexander,, "Water crisis looms as California households struggle to pay bills, suppliers lose revenue," 19 Jan. 2021

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

1625, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for delinquency

delinqu(ent) entry 2 + -ency

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Time Traveler for delinquency

Time Traveler

The first known use of delinquency was in 1625

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Statistics for delinquency

Last Updated

11 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Delinquency.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for delinquency



English Language Learners Definition of delinquency

: crimes or other morally wrong acts : illegal or immoral behavior especially by young people
US : the condition of someone who owes money and is not making payments at the required or expected time


de·​lin·​quen·​cy | \ di-ˈliŋ-kwən-sē, -ˈlin- How to pronounce delinquency (audio) \
plural delinquencies

Medical Definition of delinquency

: conduct that is out of accord with accepted behavior or the law especially : juvenile delinquency


de·​lin·​quen·​cy | \ di-ˈliŋ-kwən-sē How to pronounce delinquency (audio) \
plural delinquencies

Legal Definition of delinquency

1a : the quality or state of being delinquent
b : juvenile delinquency contributing to the delinquency of a minor
2 : a debt on which payment is overdue consumer loan delinquencies

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