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.

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 And her rebuke of the media transforms her media background from potential liability with Republican voters to an asset. Melanie Mason, Los Angeles Times, 1 Aug. 2022 Semimonthly deposits are not required if the total federal excise net liability for does not exceed $2,500 per the quarter. Lynn Mucenski Keck, Forbes, 25 July 2022 Admitting liability is a twofold problem, wrote Harwell. Bill Bowden, Arkansas Online, 23 July 2022 Fairly was charged on May 30 with accessory to murder, accessory to first-degree assault, criminal possession of a firearm, and criminal liability, police said. Hartford Courant, 20 July 2022 But Mayor Paul McNamara pushed back on the idea that the pension liability has been concealed, noting that it has been prominently featured in a number of staff briefings for the council. Joe Tash, San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 July 2022 Asked about the potential criminal liability of the father, Rinehart said Monday that investigators are trying to piece together what family members and others may have known before the attack. Ray Sanchez, CNN, 12 July 2022 The potential defamation liability for the president is significant here. Amanda Kaufman, BostonGlobe.com, 12 July 2022 The remaining tax liability was paid off June 17 with delivery of a cashier’s check to the IRS, according to the new court petition filed by attorney Reginald Turner, personal representative for the estate. Brian Mccollum, Detroit Free Press, 11 July 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of liability

1705, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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The first known use of liability was in 1705

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liability

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Last Updated

4 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Liability.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/liability. Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for liability

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

More from Merriam-Webster on liability

Nglish: Translation of liability for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of liability for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about liability

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