liability

noun
li·​a·​bil·​i·​ty | \ ˌlī-ə-ˈbi-lə-tē How to pronounce liability (audio) \
plural liabilities

Definition of liability

1a : the quality or state of being liable was cleared of liability for the accident
2 : something for which one is liable especially : pecuniary obligation : debt usually used in plural business assets and liabilities
3 : one that acts as a disadvantage : drawback This scandal makes the candidate a liability for the party.

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Examples of liability in a Sentence

The company is trying to limit its liability in this case. a retired football player whose chief asset—his prodigious girth—has now become a liability
Recent Examples on the Web Of course officers should be protected from legal liability for violating rights and laws that do not yet exist. Isaac Schorr, National Review, "What a Reasonable Police-Reform Compromise Might Look Like," 27 Apr. 2021 Lawmakers are tossing around revising to Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act — which generally makes internet platforms like Facebook and Twitter immune from liability for posts on the sites. Robert Gehrke, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Robert Gehrke: The only solution to the toxic tone of social media is for each of us to try to be better," 26 Apr. 2021 The councils and local sponsoring organizations such as churches and civic groups would make no contribution to the settlement trust and would have no protection from liability for abuse claims. BostonGlobe.com, "The Hartford agrees to pay $650M in Boy Scouts bankruptcy," 17 Apr. 2021 Under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, internet companies can moderate content on their platforms but are shielded from liability for content their users produce. Rick Rouan, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Justice Clarence Thomas didn't say Section 230 is unconstitutional," 9 Apr. 2021 Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects social media companies from liability for content posted by their users, has been singled out for scrutiny, with some members of Congress calling for its elimination. Carly Roman, Washington Examiner, "YouTube testing feature hiding dislikes to combat 'targeted' campaigns," 31 Mar. 2021 Several policies are reportedly being considered, including reforming Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which shields tech companies from liability for content posted to their platforms. NBC News, "Big Tech and Congress squared off again. The frustration was palpable.," 25 Mar. 2021 But arguments about the algorithms’ power have reverberated in Washington, where some members of Congress are citing the case in an intense debate about the law that shields tech companies from liability for content posted by users. New York Times, "How a Stabbing in Israel Echoes Through the Fight Over Online Speech," 24 Mar. 2021 Social-media platforms, which are legally exempt from liability for their users’ statements, still circulate them. The Economist, "Not gonna lie A timely diagnosis of the problem of rampant dishonesty," 18 Mar. 2021

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

1705, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for liability

Time Traveler

The first known use of liability was in 1705

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Statistics for liability

Last Updated

12 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Liability.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/liability. Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for liability

liability

noun

English Language Learners Definition of liability

: the state of being legally responsible for something : the state of being liable for something
: something (such as the payment of money) for which a person or business is legally responsible
: someone or something that causes problems

liability

noun
li·​a·​bil·​i·​ty | \ ˌlī-ə-ˈbi-lə-tē How to pronounce liability (audio) \
plural liabilities

Legal Definition of liability

1 : the quality or state of being liable
2 : something for which one is liable: as
a : a financial obligation : debt tax liability the bonds are liabilities — compare asset
contingent liability
: an amount that may or may not be owed depending on the outcome of a contingency (as a cosigner's default on a loan)
fixed liability
: a liability (as a bond or mortgage) that does not mature for at least one year from the date incurred or from a given date
b : accountability and responsibility to another enforceable by civil remedies or criminal sanctions liability for injuries caused by their product
absolute liability
: strict liability in this entry
alternative liability
: joint liability imposed on multiple tortfeasors when there are simultaneous tortious acts (as defective manufacture of parts of a wheel by different manufacturers) and uncertainty as to which act was the proximate cause of an injury — compare concert of action sense 1
civil liability
: liability imposed under civil laws and civil process as distinguished from criminal laws also : the state of being subject to civil sanctions (as restitution or damages) the acquittal does not relieve the corporation of civil liability for its fraud — see also tort

Note: Civil liability is created by a legal theory or principle that places a duty or obligation (as to use due care) on the defendant.

corporate liability
: liability of a corporation that is enforced by sanctions imposed against the corporation itself — see also pierce
criminal liability
: liability imposed under criminal laws and by means of criminal prosecution also : the state of being subject to criminal sanctions
enterprise liability
: liability imposed on a business enterprise especially for on-the-job injuries to employees specifically : liability imposed on defendants who are all members of an industry that has produced a defective product when the specific manufacturer cannot be identified
joint and several liability
: joint liability imposed on joint tortfeasors that allows enforcement of the entire judgment against any one of the tortfeasors

Note: In some jurisdictions, joint and several liability remains despite adoption of comparative fault, and in others it has been eliminated by comparative fault.

joint liability
: liability that is shared (as by co-owners) specifically : liability for a tort that is imposed on joint tortfeasors when they have acted in concert, owe the same duty to the plaintiff, have a legal relationship, or otherwise together have caused an injury to the plaintiff and that allows contribution or indemnity between the joint tortfeasors
liability in solido
: solidary liability in this entry
liability without fault
: strict liability in this entry
personal liability
: liability imposed against an individual especially for injuries that occur on the individual's property or as a result of the individual's activities
premises liability
: liability arising from injuries or losses occurring on one's premises
primary liability
: liability imposed directly on a person because of his or her own negligence, default, or legal undertaking
products liability
: liability imposed on a manufacturer or seller for a defective and unreasonably dangerous product specifically : strict liability for a defective product that does not require the plaintiff to have privity of contract with the seller or manufacturer

called also product liability

Note: A plaintiff usually must show that a defective product was the proximate cause of injuries, was defective at the time of purchase, and was used for its intended purpose in order to establish a products liability claim.

secondary liability
1 : vicarious liability in this entry
2 : liability (as of a guarantor) that arises from a legal obligation owed to an injured party to pay damages for another's failure to perform or negligent act
several liability
: liability assumed or imposed on an individual separate from others
solidary liability
in the civil law of Louisiana : liability that is shared by obligors and that makes any one obligor liable for the entire obligation to the obligee but also apportions the liability among the obligors so that contribution is allowed specifically : such liability for a tort that is imposed on joint tortfeasors — see also solidary obligation at obligation
strict liability
: liability that is imposed without a finding of fault (as negligence or intent)
vicarious liability
: liability that is imposed for another's acts because of imputed or constructive fault (as negligence) — see also respondeat superior

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