payoff

1 of 3

noun

pay·​off ˈpā-ˌȯf How to pronounce payoff (audio)
1
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

payoff

2 of 3

adjective

: yielding results in the final test : decisive

pay off

3 of 3

verb

paid off; paying off; pays off

transitive verb

1
a
: 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

Example Sentences

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Yet the payoff, creative and financial, can be substantial. Los Angeles Times, 1 Sep. 2022 The payoff at the highest point in the hike, about 3.5 miles in, is a panorama that includes downtown, the Great Salt Lake, the Oquirrh Mountains, Draper, Mount Olympus and, of course, the now-silent interstate snaking through it all. Julie Jag, The Salt Lake Tribune, 11 Aug. 2022 The domestic payoff of the Olympics matters because China will face a trying year in 2022. David Bachman, Quartz, 8 Feb. 2022 The domestic payoff of the Olympics matters because China will face a trying year in 2022. David Bachman, The Conversation, 2 Feb. 2022 Not a bad payoff — especially considering that the density bonus only allows projects to grow by 50%. John King, San Francisco Chronicle, 25 Sep. 2021 Additional red flags include asking for a Social Security number (or other personal information, such as a Federal Student Aid ID); dangling the possibility of ‘immediate’ payoff; and using high-pressure sales tactics. Amy Wagner And Steve Sprovach, The Enquirer, 26 Aug. 2021 At the summit, the payoff was worth more than the $100-million Caruso spent on his campaign — a panoramic postcard of Los Angeles, with distant clouds to frame the picture. Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times, 10 Nov. 2022 The payoff is some of the best trout fishing in the state on the Gunnison River. Stephanie Pearson, Outside Online, 2 Nov. 2022
Verb
Then, the consumer makes three similar payments every two weeks to pay off the bill. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, 26 Nov. 2022 After landing himself in a bout of trouble, Nicholas sends Fred to the North Pole to pay off his debts. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, 23 Nov. 2022 After a run-in with the law gets him in trouble, the rebellious brother of Santa Claus must move to the North Pole and help out before Christmas to pay off his debts. Kelsie Gibson, Peoplemag, 22 Nov. 2022 Though investments are likely pay off in the medium term, the optimization of the 30 mile stretch does not solve the underlying problem of the low water in the Rhine, the work only takes care of the most obvious bottleneck. Christopher F. Schuetze Laetitia Vancon, New York Times, 11 Nov. 2022 Bankman-Fried quietly deleted a tweet claiming that FTX customer funds were safe because the funds can be liable to seizure by an administrator for liquidation to pay off creditors from the insolvency estate. Sophie Mellor, Fortune, 10 Nov. 2022 Ortega’s expansive résumé proves that following these words of wisdom can pay off. Alicia Ramírez, refinery29.com, 17 Nov. 2022 If mortgage rates fall to a more reasonable level for them, Mr. Dong and Ms. Zhou plan to apply for a cash-out refinance loan on their Colorado home and use some of the money to pay off the portfolio loans. Libertina Brandt, WSJ, 10 Nov. 2022 Some of the more common atypical lending programs she's seen are ones that require little or no money down that would allow buyers to use their down payment cash to pay off debt and qualify for a larger mortgage. Shannon Pettypiece, NBC News, 15 Oct. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

First Known Use

Noun

1905, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adjective

1932, in the meaning defined above

Verb

1607, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of payoff was in 1607

Dictionary Entries Near payoff

Cite this Entry

“Payoff.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/payoff. Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

payoff

1 of 2 noun
pay·​off
ˈpā-ˌȯf
1
2
: the last and most interesting part of an incident
the payoff of a story

pay off

2 of 2 verb
(ˈ)pā-ˈȯf
1
: to pay in full
pay off a mortgage
2
: to produce a profit
investments that pay off

Legal Definition

payoff

1 of 2 noun
pay·​off ˈpā-ˌȯf How to pronounce payoff (audio)
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

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

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