\ 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 These scripts were provided by a salesperson, who said that successful sales approaches were written down and circulated among Metals.com salespeople. Hanna Kozlowska, Quartz, "The scare tactics used to sell overpriced silver to older conservatives," 19 Nov. 2019 There was a lot of paperwork; everything was methodically written down. Joseph O’neill, The New Yorker, "The Flier," 4 Nov. 2019 But they had been written down in skeletal form, often with just vocal and bass lines. BostonGlobe.com, "The symphony confirmed his death in a statement.," 28 Oct. 2019 But they had been written down in skeletal form, often with just vocal and bass lines. Daniel J. Wakin, New York Times, "Raymond Leppard, Versatile Maestro Who Led Baroque Revival, Dies at 92," 22 Oct. 2019 The deal may unravel before it is written down, let alone signed by the two countries’ leaders next month at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum in Santiago. The Economist, "How the twists and turns of the trade war are hurting growth," 17 Oct. 2019 Spjut’s dialogue was written down on a word document, and graphic images filled some frames of the panels. Denise Coffey, courant.com, "Getting Serious About Comics," 14 Oct. 2019 All ideas should be written down, so that everyone knows their input is being valued equally. Steven P. Dinkin, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Off the clock, but on the brink," 29 Sep. 2019 Authorities say it was written down from memory by an imam while he was imprisoned on nearby Robben Island during a period when slaves were not allowed to worship Islam. Washington Post, "Harry and Meghan visit South Africa’s oldest mosque on tour," 25 Sep. 2019

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

31 Oct 2019

Cite this Entry

“Write-down.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/write-down. Accessed 5 December 2019.

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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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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with write-down

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