pay·​roll | \ ˈpā-ˌrōl How to pronounce payroll (audio) \

Definition of payroll

1 : a paymaster's or employer's list of those entitled to pay and of the amounts due to each
2 : the sum necessary for distribution to those on a payroll also : the money to be distributed

Examples of payroll in a Sentence

They cut him from their payroll. He's the manager of a baseball team with a $50 million payroll. Businesses are keeping their payrolls low by embracing new technologies.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Government payrolls contracted by 15,000, highlighted by drops in state and local education., "Job and wage growth slows as trade war weighs on economy," 7 June 2019 The state has nearly 42 minority owners for every 100,000 residents, according to a survey by Paychex, a payroll, human resources and insurance services company. Lorraine Mirabella,, "Maryland ranks No. 1 in U.S. for minority and women businesses ownership, study finds," 18 Apr. 2018 Meanwhile, the contracts of Jason Heyward, Jon Lester and Jose Quintana will eat up considerable chunks of the payroll through at least 2020. Mark Gonzales,, "Lots of buzz about Manny Machado, but the Cubs have bigger issues," 21 May 2018 Duquette's assertion that deferring money allows a team to maximize current resources indicates that the money isn't considered a part of the present-day payroll. Jon Meoli,, "Don't buy sticker price: Orioles' use of deferred money in contracts helped land Cobb," 22 Mar. 2018 Those clubs have been revenue-sharing recipients but remain in the bottom-third of all MLB teams in terms of payroll. George Sipple, Detroit Free Press, "Ex-Detroit Tiger Tony Clark: One-third of MLB teams not trying to win title," 6 Mar. 2018 Parscale’s data strategy firm Parscale Strategy also received nearly $1.6 million, and Parscale himself received more than $15,500 as part of the payroll. Jamie Ducharme, Time, "What to Know About Brad Parscale, Donald Trump's 2020 Campaign Manager," 27 Feb. 2018 The New York Times cites the expansion of the government payroll and reckless spending in preparation for the Olympics as two reasons the financial disaster is so dire. Maggie Maloney, Harper's BAZAAR, "Everything You Need to Know About the Rio Olympics," 5 Aug. 2016 Some 26% said employers would start to cut payrolls in the $10.01 to $13.00 range. ... Harriet Torry, WSJ, "Raising Minimum Wage Would Cost Jobs, Say Economists in WSJ Survey," 11 Apr. 2019

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

1740, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for payroll

Last Updated

11 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for payroll

The first known use of payroll was in 1740

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More Definitions for payroll



Financial Definition of payroll

What It Is

Payroll is the total of the compensation a company pays to its employees. In the accounting world, it is also a term used for calculating and processing paychecks (as in, "doing payroll").

How It Works

On the income statement, payroll expenses are part of labor costs. They include employee salaries, employer payments for health insurance or similar benefits, payroll taxes paid by the employer, bonuses, commissions and similar expenses.

Doing payroll is a complicated process that involves ensuring that every employee is paid correctly, calculating the appropriate payroll taxes (which can vary with the employee's salary, whether he or she has hit the Social Security cap for the year, etc.), and correctly deducting miscellaneous items (such as court-ordered child support, gym memberships or 401(k) contributions).

Why It Matters

Payroll is a major expense for most companies and is the primary component of labor cost. Labor costs vary by industry, and comparing companies in different industries should be done with this in mind.

In the accounting world, doing payroll is a crucial but often thankless job. The calculations must always be accurate, the paychecks must be printed on time, new and departing employees must be added to or deleted from various processes, and the taxes must be remitted to the proper authorities on time and in the correct amount. As soon as the process ends, it begins again. Many companies outsource some of the work.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of payroll

: a list of the people who work for a company and the amount of money that the company has agreed to pay them
: the total amount of money that a company pays to all of its employees


pay·​roll | \ ˈpā-ˌrōl How to pronounce payroll (audio) \

Kids Definition of payroll

1 : a list of persons who receive pay
2 : the amount of money necessary to pay the employees of a business

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More from Merriam-Webster on payroll

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with payroll

Spanish Central: Translation of payroll

Nglish: Translation of payroll for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of payroll for Arabic Speakers

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