pay·roll | \ˈpā-ˌrōl \

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

There does not need to be a Harvey Weinstein on the payroll, with multiple allegations in play, to have an effect. Jena Mcgregor,, "Just one sexual harassment claim can tarnish a company's image, study says," 3 July 2018 Employers also appreciate those with an understanding of operations, merchandising, payroll, ordering, purchasing, receiving, shipping and other business-side areas. Jennifer Kimrey, Houston Chronicle, "Top salespeople need specific skill set," 17 June 2018 Corporations also will get a break with a formula based only on sales — not sales, payroll and property in the state, as has been the case in the past. Grace Schneider, The Courier-Journal, "What the recent tax reform bills mean for the average Kentuckian," 19 Apr. 2018 The letter, addressed to Secretary of the Senate Jeff Cobb, followed a guilty plea hearing in federal court, where Johnson admitted to putting a woman on the Senate payroll for almost a year and paid her $23,000 for no work. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, "Convicted Michigan lawmaker Bert Johnson quits his Senate seat," 2 Mar. 2018 Like most state programs, it is financed via payroll taxes on employees. Simon Montlake, The Christian Science Monitor, "Paid family leave: While US lags behind, more states set policies," 12 July 2018 Hotels, construction companies and commercial landlords pay more under the gross receipts taxes than under the payroll tax. Roland Li,, "As Silicon Valley looks to tax tech, San Francisco has lightened its load," 2 July 2018 Governor Charlie Baker — who has campaigned on opposing new taxes or fees — said his decision last week to sign sweeping legislation that includes a new $800 million payroll tax does not renege on that promise. Matt Stout,, "New payroll tax different ‘than just raising taxes,’ Baker says," 30 June 2018 The Medicare Trust Fund contains the proceeds of the payroll tax that all working Americans pay., "Medicare is not going broke," 25 June 2018

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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Phrases Related to payroll

payroll deduction

payroll tax

Statistics for payroll

Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

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 \

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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Comments on payroll

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