\ 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


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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Because much early music was not written down, and because performance styles and expectations have changed over the centuries, devotees spend a lot of time debating authenticity. Neil Genzlinger, BostonGlobe.com, "Michael Jaffee, who cofounded early-music group, dies at 81," 23 June 2019 That’s why there’s a record from 2012, when her therapist wrote down what Ford said; when her husband first heard Kavanaugh’s name. Ezra Klein, Vox, "The Ford-Kavanaugh sexual assault hearings, explained," 28 Sep. 2018 For each one, write down five reasons why this isn't happening. Sandy Fernández, Redbook, "Show Your Money Some Love," 31 May 2017 The decision, however, raised a tricky issue: how to write down a tongue that has no alphabet of its own but has always used scripts imported from outside. Andrew Higgins, New York Times, "Kazakhstan Cheers New Alphabet, Except for All Those Apostrophes," 15 Jan. 2018 Corteva already took a $4.6 billion write down last fall, and DowDuPont’s shares have fallen over the past three years, even as the S&P 500 has appreciated by a third. Lauren Silva Laughlin, WSJ, "DowDuPont Started Spin Cycle at Wrong Time," 31 May 2019 An activity asked visitors to write down a memory, then tie it up to a board alongside others' notes. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Kate Middleton Shares a Sweet Childhood Memory at the Chelsea Flower Show," 20 May 2019 Now if someone writes down 8794 by mistake, the calculation yields 49. Eugenia Cheng, WSJ, "How Numbers Can Check Themselves," 20 June 2018 After initial hoopla, Snap, Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, couldn't sell enough of them and in November wrote down $40 million in unsold inventory. Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY, "We spent the day with Snapchat's revived Spectacles," 27 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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Statistics for write-down

Last Updated

23 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for write-down

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 How to pronounce write-down (audio) \ noun

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