pay·​off | \ ˈpā-ˌȯf How to pronounce payoff (audio) \

Definition of payoff

 (Entry 1 of 3)

2 : the act or occasion of receiving money or material gain especially as compensation or as a bribe
3 : the climax of an incident or enterprise specifically : the denouement of a narrative
4 : a decisive fact or factor resolving a situation or bringing about a definitive conclusion



Definition of payoff (Entry 2 of 3)

: yielding results in the final test : decisive

pay off

paid off; paying off; pays off

Definition of pay off (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to pay (a debt or a creditor) in full
b : to give all due wages to especially : to pay in full and discharge (an employee)
c : bribe
2 : to inflict retribution on
3 : to allow (a thread or rope) to run off a spool or drum

intransitive verb

: to yield returns

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Synonyms & Antonyms for payoff

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of payoff in a Sentence

Noun You'll have to work hard but there'll be a big payoff in the end. We expected more of a payoff for all our hard work. We made a lot of sacrifices with little payoff. Several city officials have been accused of receiving payoffs from the company. He lost his factory job but received a payoff and a pension. Verb I finally paid off the loan. she paid off the security guard so that she could steal whatever she liked
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun An accompanying viral video, shot in the streets of downtown Detroit, drew wide attention and got another payoff a year later: In July, the clip won Youth Project of the Year from the Stellar Awards, the most prestigious honors in gospel music. Brian Mccollum, Detroit Free Press, 16 Sep. 2021 Williams is in the final year of his rookie contract, meaning a big season would translate into a big payoff. Jeff Miller, Los Angeles Times, 15 Sep. 2021 Like Bernthal, the episode as a whole doesn’t flinch, up to the payoff revealing whether Aaron was right about Chase or not. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 14 Sep. 2021 An ultimate payoff came Tuesday with Bility’s emotional reaction to him making the 53-man roster. Michael Gehlken, Dallas News, 8 Sep. 2021 With a combination of matte, cream-to-powder blush, and glossy satin lip colours, the Lip and Cheek Duos give you rosy red cheeks to rival Pinocchio’s, while the chubby Shadow Sticks offer a quick colour payoff. Esther Newman,, 8 Sep. 2021 Using Trask’s own long journey and ultimate payoff as a template for success, Jones stuck it out at UF and now stands on the precipice of the biggest moment of his career. Edgar Thompson,, 2 Sep. 2021 Some of them are both hilarious and have a deep meaning with a huge moral payoff at the end. Jeryl Brunner, Forbes, 31 Aug. 2021 The strategy of restraint achieved a glorious payoff in the last pages of the finale, when the orchestra let loose with a frothing energy that bordered on animal joy. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 23 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Lincoln says the lower peak power will pay off in a higher EPA fuel economy estimate. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, 19 Aug. 2021 McDonogh coach Brandon Quaranta believes the hard work from both his standout players will pay off down the road. Glenn Graham,, 18 Aug. 2021 He’s like a Vegas gambler who’s shoved all of his chips on the table, betting that his denial strategy will eventually pay off politically. Matthew J. Palm,, 12 Aug. 2021 But time will tell if combining with these two particular companies will pay off. Stat Staff, STAT, 1 Aug. 2021 Still, San Diego is betting that its big workforce investment will pay off in the long run. Michael Smolens Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 July 2021 Musk insisted that the controversial deal will eventually pay off for shareholders and the global environment as Tesla refocuses on its solar-energy business in the quarters to come. Washington Post, 12 July 2021 In an early sign that tapping Indonesia will pay off, the Permata merger boosted the bank’s net interest income by 8% to 77 billion baht last year. Susan Cunningham, Forbes, 7 July 2021 There are those who doubt whether her leadership style will pay off politically. Stephania Taladri, The New Yorker, 28 June 2021

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


1905, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1932, in the meaning defined above


1607, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

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Dictionary Entries Near payoff

pay obeisance


pay off

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Statistics for payoff

Last Updated

18 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Payoff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for payoff



English Language Learners Definition of payoff

: a good result : the advantage or benefit that is gained from doing something
: something valuable (such as money) that you give to someone for doing something and especially for doing something illegal or dishonest : bribe
: money that a company gives to a worker who is being forced to leave a job


pay·​off | \ ˈpā-ˌȯf How to pronounce payoff (audio) \

Legal Definition of payoff

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the act or an instance of paying someone off : bribe — compare kickback
2 : the act of paying a debt or creditor in full would release the lien upon the payoff of the balance

pay off

transitive verb

Legal Definition of pay off (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to pay (a debt or credit) in full the loan was paid off
2 : bribe

More from Merriam-Webster on payoff

Nglish: Translation of payoff for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of payoff for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about payoff


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