\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

To enter, watch Wheel of Fortune from October 29 through November 2 and write down the Bonus Round Puzzle Solution. Megan Friedman, Country Living, "‘Wheel of Fortune’ Is Giving Away a House in Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville," 23 Oct. 2018 Take a few minutes and write down the thoughts in your head. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "A Guide to Finding Your Self-Confidence and Dealing with Negative Thoughts," 7 Aug. 2018 Esquivel handed out cards and wrote down orders in composition notebooks. Ingrid Schmidt, latimes.com, "Inside shoemaker George Esquivel's Orange County fashion lab," 27 Mar. 2018 Freestone wrote down its assets by about $136 million after receiving the Duff & Phelps report, becoming insolvent. Mark Maremont, WSJ, "SEC Charges Former Insurance Wunderkind With Fraud," 17 Oct. 2018 Netflix wrote down $39 million on projects that had to be dumped because of allegations against Kevin Spacey. Claire Atkinson, NBC News, "Harassment settlements add up for media companies," 16 May 2018 The insurer, BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina, wrote down the charge to $400. Sarah Gantz, Philly.com, "For this family, the flu's final gut punch was an $887 testing charge," 10 Apr. 2018 Later that day, McCaffery announced at a company meeting that no one should write down anything about the hack, former and current employees say. Tom Simonite, WIRED, "Startup Working on Contentious Pentagon AI Project Was Hacked," 12 June 2018 Mehle attended all of the best parties in New York City, and at the end of the evenings would write down everything she had seen and heard. Emily Selter, Town & Country, "A Famous Society Gossip Columnist's Estate Goes Up for Auction," 10 May 2017

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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a nest or breeding place

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