good·will | \ˌgu̇d-ˈwil \

Definition of goodwill 

1a : a kindly feeling of approval and support : benevolent interest or concern people of goodwill

b(1) : the favor or advantage that a business has acquired especially through its brands and its good reputation

(2) : the value of projected earnings increases of a business especially as part of its purchase price

(3) : the excess of the purchase price of a company over its book value which represents the value of goodwill as an intangible asset for accounting purposes

2a : cheerful consent accepted the terms of the contract with goodwill

b : willing effort

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Other Words from goodwill

good-willed \ˌgu̇d-ˈwild \ or less commonly goodwilled adjective

Examples of goodwill in a Sentence

She has goodwill toward all her coworkers. They allowed him to keep the extra money as a gesture of goodwill.

Recent Examples on the Web

Besides serving us some finger-lickin’ good barbecue, City Barbeque is now also dishing out a heap of goodwill. Felicia Dechter,, "Column: City Barbeque teams up with Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry," 7 July 2018 But any goodwill dissipated with the March 27 vote to rename the high school as Abington Schwarzman High School — a stipulation that was not disclosed right away. Kathy Boccella,, "Apologies and anger at Abington school board meeting," 10 Apr. 2018 That’s a lot of goodwill in an area that has maybe 100 or so of the area’s massive homeless population. Steve Lopez,, "He handed water to homeless people when temps topped 100. Some Silver Lake neighbors jeered, others cheered," 11 July 2018 No pretending that everyone approaches this issue with goodwill. William Cummings, USA TODAY, "The Bubble: March for Our Lives protesters dismissed by conservatives," 26 Mar. 2018 As a sign of goodwill, Macedonia had already removed a statue that looked rather like Alexander from its airport. The Economist, "Meet a new country: “Northern Macedonia”," 14 June 2018 Your every act of goodwill, then, is potentially teeming with wrath. Julie Muncy, WIRED, "The Messiness of Vampyr Doesn't Weaken Its Bite," 7 June 2018 In a sign of goodwill, North Korea last month also demolished tunnels and buildings at its nuclear test site in the country's remote northeast and provided rare access to foreign journalists. Matthew Pennington, Fox News, "Report: Imagery shows North Korea razes missile test stand," 7 June 2018 And 1972 heralded the arrival of the Golden Girls, goodwill ambassadors decked out in gold-and-white hot pants. From Express-news Archives, San Antonio Express-News, "San Antonio rodeo went for more big-time entertainers in the ‘70s and beyond," 8 Feb. 2018

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

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Phrases Related to goodwill

goodwill ambassador

Statistics for goodwill

Last Updated

14 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for goodwill

The first known use of goodwill was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for goodwill



Financial Definition of goodwill

What It Is

Goodwill is the excess of purchase price over the fair market value of a company's identifiable assets and liabilities.

How It Works

Goodwill is created when one company acquires another for a price higher than the fair market value of its assets; for example, if Company A buys Company B for more than the fair value of Company B's assets and debts, the amount left over is listed on Company A's balance sheet as goodwill.

The account for goodwill is located in the assets section of a company’s balance sheet. It is an intangible asset, as opposed to physical assets like buildings and equipment.

Goodwill is an accounting construct that is required under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). The concept can be best illustrated with an example:

Assume that Company ABC wants to acquire Company XYZ. ABC purchases all of the outstanding stock of XYZ for $8,000,000. On the acquisition date, Company XYZ lists the following assets and liabilities:

An appraisal estimates the fair market value (FMV) of the PP&E at $7 million. The book value of all the other assets and liabilities is equal to FMV.

The fair value of XYZ's assets and liabilities is $2,000,000 + $7,000,000 - $4,000,000 = $5,000,000. We leave out the goodwill listed on XYZ's balance sheet because it's not a real asset being purchased by ABC -- it's an accounting construct XYZ was required to list pursuant to a prior acquisition.

ABC paid $8,000,000 for the stock, so on its next balance sheet, ABC will list an account called Goodwill that will have a value of $3,000,000.

The stock of many well-known companies is worth more than the value of their assets. To cite notable examples, the majority of Coca-Cola's share value is not in its brick-and-mortar bottling plants, but instead in the brand name and "secret formula" of its storied soft drink brand.

Why It Matters

Even though goodwill is listed as an asset, it can't be bought or sold. Many analysts prefer to not consider it when they are examining a firm's assets. One commonly used measure is "tangible book value," which excludes non-cash balance sheet items like goodwill and amortization.

The appropriate value of goodwill is very hard to define. It is possible for an acquiring company to pay too much for the acquiree, and if the acquired net assets fall in value, the acquiring company must write them down (a process called "impairment"). Impairment charges flow to the income statement, and will negatively affect EPS and the firm's stock price.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of goodwill

: a kind, helpful, or friendly feeling or attitude

business : the amount of value that a company's good reputation adds to its overall value


good·will | \ˈgu̇d-ˈwil \

Kids Definition of goodwill

: kind feelings or attitude

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good·will | \ˈgu̇d-ˌwil \

Legal Definition of goodwill 

1 : an intangible asset that is made up of the favor or prestige which a business has acquired beyond the mere value of what it sells due to the personality or experience of those conducting it, their reputation for skill or dependability, the business's location, or any other circumstance incidental to the business that tends to draw and retain customers

2a : the value of projected increases in the earnings of a business especially as part of its purchase price

b : the excess of the purchase price of a business above the value assigned for tax purposes to its other net assets

Note: The Internal Revenue Code requires the purchaser of a business to allocate the purchase price among the various types of assets. Frequently the purchase price is greater than the sum of the values of the individual assets. The excess is labeled goodwill. Because of its indefinite life, goodwill is not amortizable as an asset. The purchaser will therefore usually try to keep the allocation to goodwill as small as possible.

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