\ ˈrīt-ˌdau̇n How to pronounce write-down (audio) \

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

wrote down; written down; writing down; writes 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

Verb a company forced to write down its assets write down what you remember about that day
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In Kentucky, state police handed out quarantine notices and wrote down license plate numbers of the dozens of people who met at a Baptist church. David Clark Scott, The Christian Science Monitor, "Monday Sunrise Briefing: Historic oil deal offers stability," 13 Apr. 2020 The Vision Fund wrote down its $4.4 billion stake in WeWork by $3.5 billion. Bradley Hope, WSJ, "New SoftBank Tech Fund Falls Far Short of $108 Billion Fundraising Goal," 8 Feb. 2020 But in my mind, building a simplified model of a system in the laboratory is conceptually not so different from what physicists have been doing for centuries: writing down simplified models of physical systems in the language of mathematics. Quanta Magazine, "The End of Theoretical Physics As We Know It," 27 Aug. 2018 When an actor reads that, that’s a dream to see that written down. Nick Romano, EW.com, "Penny Dreadful star Natalie Dormer on how Magda feeds 'the darker side of men's souls'," 24 Apr. 2020 So instead of trying to remember what exactly made that last batch so much better than the two previous ones, simply write down the details to keep track. Popular Science, "At-home brew kits that let you make your own beer," 16 Jan. 2020 In Balderdash, players write down definitions of a word or description on the card that’s been drawn, then read their definitions aloud. Jennifer Larue, courant.com, "O, Come, All Ye Playful: Fun games for holiday gatherings," 12 Nov. 2019 Officials also suggest identifying a temporary caregiver and writing down emergency information such as owner’s name and contact, veterinarian’s contact and pet’s feeding schedule and medical conditions. Chronicle Staff, SFChronicle.com, "Coronavirus news from the Bay Area: April 7-8," 24 Apr. 2020 Every morning, the science and writing teacher at Maryland School in central Phoenix would have her students watch the feed and write down their observations. Erin Stone, azcentral, "What's that owl doing? Wildlife cams offer a link to the wild for Arizonans at home," 23 Apr. 2020

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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Time Traveler for write-down

Time Traveler

The first known use of write-down was in 1588

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Last Updated

24 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Write-down.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/write-down. Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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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 How to pronounce write-down (audio) \ noun

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