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 If the plan paid for itself through payroll taxes, meaning that workers with higher wages paid more, GDP would fall by 15%, according to the model. Cassidy Morrison, Washington Examiner, "Sanders 'Medicare for all' would boost health but could decimate economy: Analysis," 30 Jan. 2020 The average hourly labor cost is the sum of all labor costs, including wages, benefits and payroll taxes, divided by the total number of hours worked in a year. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, "Here's the fallout from UAW's 40-day strike against General Motors," 16 Jan. 2020 The problem is that $10.40 covers not only the caregiver's wage but also unemployment and payroll taxes. Andy Davis, Arkansas Online, "Wage law pares caregivers' pay," 22 Dec. 2019 Companies enrolled in the state plan have to remit payroll taxes for 15 months before their employees receive any benefits., "You're using a browser set to private or incognito mode.," 20 Dec. 2019 Blahous estimates that the U.S. could cover that gap if the Social Security payroll tax were raised from 12.4% to 15.1%. Tyler Cowen, Twin Cities, "Tyler Cowen: Good news, young people! Social Security isn’t doomed!," 15 Nov. 2019 The pace of hiring has slowed; payrolls have risen by 1.4% over the past 12 months, down from 1.8% over the year before that. The Economist, "America’s economy is resisting the pull of recession," 31 Oct. 2019 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

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

5 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Payroll.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 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

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