gar·​nish·​ment | \ ˈgär-nish-mənt How to pronounce garnishment (audio) \

Definition of garnishment

2 : a legal summons or warning concerning the attachment of property to satisfy a debt
3 : a stoppage of a specified sum from wages to satisfy a creditor or a legal obligation (such as child support)

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Examples of garnishment in a Sentence

a high-end caterer whose dishes feature an array of over-the-top garnishments

Recent Examples on the Web

The dollar amount of the garnishment is included in each of these docket entries. ProPublica, "How We Tallied Medical Debt Lawsuits and Wage Garnishments in Memphis," 27 June 2019 More than 9,300 garnishment cases occurred that year, and nonprofit hospitals were more likely to garnish wages. Wendi C. Thomas, ProPublica, "The Nonprofit Hospital That Makes Millions, Owns a Collection Agency and Relentlessly Sues the Poor," 27 June 2019 Federal law allows garnishment of up to 50% on child support. James Agnew, USA TODAY, "Dealing with debt: Understanding wage garnishment and how to avoid it," 12 Apr. 2018 Other adverse events include a bankruptcy discharge, wage garnishment, tax lien or foreclosure during the five previous years. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, "Students aren't the only ones crushed by school debt," 11 July 2018 Harvey laid off 40 police and fire department employees a couple weeks after the jail was closed for repairs, blaming the cuts on the state’s garnishment of tax revenues at the request of the city’s underfunded public safety pension funds. Zak Koeske, Daily Southtown, "Harvey repairs jail ceiling that escapees fell through, but other problems remain, officers say," 15 June 2018 When factoring in the $34 garnishment in February, the amount owed to Eno, with interest, has grown to more than $128,000, Davis said. Lewis Kamb, The Seattle Times, "Ex-store manager was awarded $120,585 after she was fired by Tully’s, so where’s the money?," 30 May 2018 The bill would allow for garnishment of nongovernment wages or to pull from retirement accounts, if necessary, to pay for settlements. Natalie Andrews, WSJ, "Senate Passes Overhaul of Sexual-Harassment Policies on Capitol Hill," 24 May 2018 Ten days before the shooting, a garnishment was filed against Jungerman and one day before the shooting, the Jackson County Sheriff's Office served him with property liens to satisfy the judgment against him, according to the lawsuit. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "Family of Kansas City attorney shot dead in front yard sues alleged killer," 24 May 2018

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

1550, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for garnishment

(sense 1) garnish entry 1 + -ment; (senses 2-3) borrowed from Anglo-French garnissement "warning, notification, notification concerning the attachment of property to satisfy a debt," from garniss-, stem of garnir "to give notice, warn, give legal summons" + -ment -ment — more at garnish entry 1

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Statistics for garnishment

Last Updated

12 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for garnishment

The first known use of garnishment was in 1550

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More Definitions for garnishment



Financial Definition of garnishment

What It Is

Also called wage execution, a garnishment is a process under which money owed or paid to a borrower is given to a creditor instead.

How It Works

Let's say John Doe has stopped paying child support to his ex-wife. His ex-wife takes him to court for the money owed and obtains a garnishment, whereby the court seizes a portion of John's monthly paycheck and automatically gives it to his ex-wife.

One of the most common forms of garnishment is wage garnishment. Wage garnishment is often used to recoup back taxes, delinquent child support or judgments, and the courts have the ability to garnish not just wages, but bonuses, commissions, pension income and distributions from retirement plans. Welfare, unemployment, veterans benefits, social security income, workers compensation and child support payments generally cannot be garnished.

The Consumer Credit Protection Act prohibits employers from firing employees just because their earnings are being garnished, though there are exceptions.

Why It Matters

Garnishments generally require a court order, and they can destroy a person's credit rating. It is important to note that not all things can be garnished; state laws set forth the exemptions. Usually, state laws prohibit garnishing a person's assets to the extent that they leave the borrower with no way to support himself or herself.

Source: Investing Answers


gar·​nish·​ment | \ ˈgär-nish-mənt How to pronounce garnishment (audio) \

Legal Definition of garnishment

: a remedial device used by a creditor to have property of the debtor or money owed to the debtor that is in the possession of a third party attached to pay the debt to the creditor specifically : attachment of the debtor's wages to satisfy a judgment — compare wage assignment at assignment

More from Merriam-Webster on garnishment

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for garnishment Encyclopedia article about garnishment

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