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

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Examples of insolvent in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Bury was one of ten sides to become insolvent in 2002, when a TV deal for lower-league clubs fell apart. The Economist, "The end of a 134-year-old English football club," 31 Aug. 2019 Washington Mutual became insolvent in 2008 because customers became worried over reported trading activity, pulled $16 billion from deposits over a 10-day period, and left the bank unable to operate. Erik Sherman, Fortune, "Here’s Why Critics Think Changes to the ‘Volcker Rule’ Could Increase Risk and Leave Taxpayers Bailing Out Banks (Again)," 26 Aug. 2019 Even worse, in New York, the Road Carriers Local 707 Pension Fund has become insolvent. CNN, "America is facing a pension crisis. Retirees will pay the price if we don't act now," 14 Aug. 2019 An offense against common sense as well as morality, reparations would take from Bubba and give to Barack, never mind if the former is an insolvent methamphetamine addict or the latter a dweller in near-pharaonic splendor. Graham Hillard, National Review, "The Other Case against Reparations," 22 July 2019 Lenders sued, arguing that PetSmart was insolvent at the time of the transfer and that the move was fraudulent., "Chewy raises $1 billion in IPO, and stock soars in trading debut," 14 June 2019 That starts with reforming the Brazilian public-sector pension system, which is insolvent. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, "Brazil’s Would-Be Giant Slayer," 14 Apr. 2019 The charges were announced the same day as the National Credit Union Administration said the credit union was insolvent and had no prospect of restoring operations on its own. Amanda Lee Myers, The Seattle Times, "Credit union liquidated as manager charged with embezzlement," 29 Mar. 2019 Ojakian has said the colleges would be insolvent long before that process would be completed. Kathleen Megan,, "CSCU President Says He Won't Resign And He Will Continue To Pursue College Merger," 1 May 2018

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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Statistics for insolvent

Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for insolvent

The first known use of insolvent was in 1591

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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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Comments on insolvent

What made you want to look up insolvent? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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