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 Boston led the major leagues in payroll in each of the past two seasons, the second of which ended with a 84-78 record and and no playoff berth. Jared Diamond, WSJ, "Red Sox, Manager Alex Cora Part Ways After Sign-Stealing Scandal," 15 Jan. 2020 By most measures, New York sports franchises are often near or at the front of the pack in team payrolls. Dan Barry, New York Times, "The Lost Decade of New York Sports," 30 Dec. 2019 The Giants did disburse nearly $200 million in 2019 payroll. Henry Schulman,, "Giants ignore free-agent spending spree at meetings and stay the course," 12 Dec. 2019 Stores will hire extra sales associates and workers in fulfillment centers, spending an extra $50 million in payroll, to assist customers during peak hours, the company said. Doreen Christensen,, "Big box retailers kick off early holiday deals, free shipping | Doreen’s Deals," 26 Oct. 2019 Mississippi’s 73 airports generated 20,000 jobs, $2.53 billion in economic output and had a $722 million in payroll, a 2014 report showed. John Sharp |, al, "Alabama will soon learn the economic benefits of its airports," 9 Oct. 2019 Monthly gains in nonfarm payrolls are expected to slow to an average of 164,000 this year and 129,000 next year. Aldo Svaldi, The Denver Post, "In Denver, nation’s top economists lower outlook for 2020," 8 Oct. 2019 Tampa Bay, last in payroll at $66 million, has a chance to make the playoffs along with Oakland, 25th at $95 million. Ronald Blum, Twin Cities, "MLB attendance drops in boom-bust era of big winners, losers," 28 Sep. 2019 Tampa Bay, last in payroll at $66 million, has a chance to make the playoffs along with Oakland, 25th at $95 million. San Diego Union-Tribune, "MLB attendance drops in boom-bust era of big winners, losers," 27 Sep. 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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Time Traveler for payroll

Time Traveler

The first known use of payroll was in 1740

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Statistics for payroll

Last Updated

24 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Payroll.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 28 January 2020.

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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


How to pronounce payroll (audio)

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

Comments on payroll

What made you want to look up payroll? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


showing steady, earnest care and effort

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