\ˈrīt-ˌdau̇n \

Definition of write-down 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: a deliberate reduction in the book value of an asset (as to reflect the effect of obsolescence)

write down


Definition of write down (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to record in written form

2a : to depreciate, disparage, or injure by writing

b : to reduce in status, rank, or value especially : to reduce the book value of

intransitive verb

: to write so as to appeal to a lower level of taste, comprehension, or intelligence

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Examples of write-down in a Sentence


a company forced to write down its assets write down what you remember about that day

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The friend wrote down my number, and that was the second time [Hudson] had heard my name. Leah Prinzivalli, SELF, "5 Celebrity Trainers Explain How They Got Their First Famous Clients," 30 June 2018 Tanya Berry wrote down phone numbers from the caller ID at the Red Hen Bar & Grill in Napa Thursday morning. Justin Phillips, SFChronicle.com, "Napa’s Red Hen dealing with backlash of POTUS tweet that targeted Virginia restaurant," 28 June 2018 Nikki Drake, a facilitator, writes down residents' concerns about Boise's growth on Wednesday, June 20, at the first of three roundtables on growth sponsored by Boise city officials. Maria L. La Ganga, idahostatesman, "Memo to Mayor Bieter: Your growth-roundtable participants love Boise, not City Hall," 21 June 2018 Such clusters of notes can’t really be written down, said Philadelphia cellist Ohad (Udi) Bar-David, who also employed micro-tones in a long, soulful solo that went to musical places that few Western musicians can inhabit. David Patrick Stearns, Philly.com, "Philadelphia Orchestra's first day in Israel: 'Want to hear more?' asks Yannick," 3 June 2018 The central bank, for its part, has called off a drive to get private banks to write down non-performing loans, for fear that their balance-sheets were already overstretched. The Economist, "Myanmar’s government unveils a 238-point economic reform plan," 1 Mar. 2018 Because of accounting write downs on the declining value of its power plants, FirstEnergy showed a loss in 2017 of $1.7 billion, or $3.88 per share. John Funk, cleveland.com, "FirstEnergy to spend $10 billion on upgrades, expect rate increases," 21 Feb. 2018 Instead, his nephew asked for my notebook and wrote down a name. Peter Gwin, WSJ, "The Horses That Changed History," 19 June 2018 The plot was born out of some thoughts Riley wrote down in a notebook in the early 2000s. Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle, "Boots Riley and ‘Sorry to Bother You’ receive rousing debuts in SF, Oakland," 13 Apr. 2018

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


1932, in the meaning defined above


1588, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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The first known use of write-down was in 1588

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More Definitions for write-down



Financial Definition of write-down

What It Is

A write-down is the accounting term used to describe a reduction in the book value of an asset due to economic or fundamental changes in the asset.  A write-down is the opposite of a write-up.

How It Works

A write-down can be processed whenever a firm readjusts their balance sheet numbers which typically happens when a company files their quarterly earnings.

Insurance companies often need to write down assets since they must maintain a certain stated level of capital compared to their portfolio of potential liabilities. For illiquid investments such as real estate, book value is calculated by analyzing current market conditions, taking into consideration rental rates, the values of similar buildings, as well as current interest rates.  When preparing quarterly financial updates, insurance firms reevaluate the value of their real estate holdings.  If market conditions change, the firm writes down the book value of the holding to adjust the value to current market conditions.

Thus a real estate write-down in our example can be caused by either a negative change in the overall macro environment, or a micro economic occurrence such as building deterioration.

Why It Matters

Changes in book values caused by write-downs were at the heart of financial company failures caused by the sub-prime crisis. When write-downs occurred, many financial firms needed to raise capital from other sources to maintain their minimum capital obligations.

Companies that could not raise money by selling stock, new debt, or assets, were forced into bankruptcy or forced mergers when their assets could no longer cover their liabilities.

Source: Investing Answers

write down

transitive verb
wrote down; written down; writing down

Legal Definition of write down 

: to reduce the book value of (an asset) write down accounts receivable

Other Words from write-down

write-down \ˈrīt-ˌdau̇n \ noun

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