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
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 But Moore and other advocates say that the payoff is worth it financially and for equity, and that the money would eventually recirculate in the economy as children reach adulthood and spend their baby bonds. Erin Cox, Washington Post, 19 Oct. 2022 The payoff is still to come, but here, audiences are presented with the moral and emotional backstory for a future showdown. Peter Debruge, Variety, 18 Oct. 2022 The payoff is a feast of adventures—horseback riding, hiking, kayaking, wildlife watching, rock climbing—in strikingly diverse landscapes. Jen Murphy, Town & Country, 7 Oct. 2022 But as anyone who’s ever dropped $100 at a nursery only to grow one scraggly bunch of smaller-than-baby carrots can attest to, a financial payoff is not necessarily one of them. Juno Demelo, Glamour, 5 Apr. 2022 Healthcare companies that came up with effective Covid-19 vaccines, treatments and tests are seeing a huge financial payoff and are starting to spend their cash, while grappling with questions about whether the growth is sustainable. Peter Loftus, WSJ, 25 Feb. 2022 Building out the metaverse will be arduous and expensive, while the financial payoff is uncertain. Irina Ivanova, CBS News, 2 Nov. 2021
Verb
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 The nonprofit cannot use the money to pay off the debt owed to the regular authority. Stacy Ryburn, Arkansas Online, 25 Sep. 2022 The president last week revealed a student loan handout plan that essentially will use taxpayer money to pay off up to $10,000 of student debt per borrower for those making less than $125,000 per year. Fox News, 30 Aug. 2022 Sri Lanka then had to use its foreign exchange reserves to pay off government debt. Rhea Mogul, CNN, 13 July 2022 Instead, more than half will be using their refund to make ends meet: 37% will be using it to pay down debt or pay off bills, and another 18% will use it to pay for everyday items like food or clothing. Fred Backus, CBS News, 18 Apr. 2022 Personal finance experts encourage people to use the money to pay off debt, boost emergency savings and contribute to retirement accounts, especially as the Fed prepares to raise interest rates more aggressively. Elisabeth Buchwald, USA TODAY, 12 Apr. 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 27 Nov. 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

More from Merriam-Webster on payoff

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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