in·​sol·​vent | \ (ˌ)in-ˈsäl-vənt How to pronounce insolvent (audio) , -ˈsȯl- \

Definition of insolvent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : unable to pay debts as they fall due in the usual course of business
b : having liabilities in excess of a reasonable market value of assets held
2 : insufficient to pay all debts an insolvent estate


plural insolvents

Definition of insolvent (Entry 2 of 2)

: an insolvent debtor : a person or entity that is unable to pay debts as they fall due The country's newspapers regularly published legal notices that announced private assignments for the benefit of creditors, the attachments by creditors against the property of absconding debtors, and court-mandated auctions of assets owned by insolvents.— Edward J. Balleisen

Examples of insolvent in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The 83-year-old program covers benefits for injured workers’ when their original insurance provider becomes insolvent or shuts down. Christen Smith, Washington Examiner, "Grants for Pennsylvania small businesses ensnared in political gridlock," 15 Jan. 2021 But even if the current level of unemployment continued into the summer, the trust fund wouldn't become insolvent until early fall 2021, well past the March cutoff, Moon said. Adrienne Roberts, Detroit Free Press, "Political battle leaves new Michigan jobless with 20 weeks of benefits instead of 26," 4 Jan. 2021 Although its government is nearly insolvent and half of its citizens live in poverty, South Africa is considered too rich to qualify for cut-rate vaccines from international aid organizations. New York Times, "For Covid-19 Vaccines, Some Are Too Rich — and Too Poor," 28 Dec. 2020 Wirecard, now insolvent and dismembered, was Europe’s preeminent fintech firm, offering mobile payment and banking services worldwide. Fortune Editors, Fortune, "The biggest business scandals of 2020," 27 Dec. 2020 Yet these countries weren't actually insolvent; Spain's fiscal position was no worse than that of Britain, which was able to borrow at very low interest rates. Arkansas Online, "PAUL KRUGMAN: Trump Wars II: The Loser Strikes Back," 28 Nov. 2020 This is an alternative under state law that lets an insolvent debtor liquidate. Kathleen Pender,, "Use it or lose it: Gift cards could become worthless if the issuer goes bankrupt," 2 Jan. 2021 The Sacklers deny the company was insolvent and say the allegation isn’t supported by documents the committee cites. Andrew Scurria, WSJ, "Sackler Family Debated Lawsuit Risk While Taking Billions From Purdue," 23 Dec. 2020 The Wirecard scandal has claimed yet another scalp as Deutsche Bank's head of accounting stepped aside as prosecutors in Munich step up their investigation into the insolvent payments company. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, "Investors turn bullish on vaccine hopes, IPO mania, and stimulus talks," 9 Dec. 2020

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


1591, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1725, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for insolvent

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The first known use of insolvent was in 1591

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Statistics for insolvent

Last Updated

14 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Insolvent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for insolvent



English Language Learners Definition of insolvent

: not having enough money to pay debts


in·​sol·​vent | \ in-ˈsäl-vənt How to pronounce insolvent (audio) \

Legal Definition of insolvent

1 : having ceased paying or unable to pay debts as they fall due in the usual course of business — compare bankrupt
2 : having liabilities in excess of a reasonable market value of assets held
3 : insufficient to pay all debts an insolvent estate

Other Words from insolvent

insolvent noun

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