in·​sol·​vent | \ (ˌ)in-ˈsäl-vənt How to pronounce insolvent (audio) , -ˈsȯl- \

Definition of insolvent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : unable to pay debts as they fall due in the usual course of business
b : having liabilities in excess of a reasonable market value of assets held
2 : insufficient to pay all debts an insolvent estate


plural insolvents

Definition of insolvent (Entry 2 of 2)

: an insolvent debtor : a person or entity that is unable to pay debts as they fall due The country's newspapers regularly published legal notices that announced private assignments for the benefit of creditors, the attachments by creditors against the property of absconding debtors, and court-mandated auctions of assets owned by insolvents.— Edward J. Balleisen

Examples of insolvent in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Prominent American short seller Andrew Left claimed Evergrande was insolvent in 2012. Brian Spegele, WSJ, 8 Oct. 2021 Some 34 state accounts are currently considered insolvent by federal standards, meaning the balances are below the minimum level needed to get through a mild, year-long recession, Walczak said. Tami Luhby, CNN, 1 Oct. 2021 But Social Security is not some Ponzi scheme that is going to be insolvent anytime soon. Ben Carlson, Fortune, 12 Sep. 2021 Trust Fund is now expected to be insolvent by 2033, a year earlier than anticipated. Frank Holmes, Forbes, 7 Sep. 2021 If including disability benefits, the DI fund, the system could be insolvent by 2034. Russ Wiles, The Arizona Republic, 5 Sep. 2021 In 2012, the short-seller Citron Research published a report saying the company was insolvent, accusing Evergrande of presenting fraudulent information to investors. New York Times, 10 Aug. 2021 Last year, the trustees said the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund, which pays retirement and survivors benefits, would be insolvent by 2034. Washington Post, 3 Sep. 2021 The debacle, coming on the heels of Credit Suisse’s involvement with the now-insolvent financing firm Greensill, forced the bank to cut its dividend and raise fresh capital from investors to shore up its balance sheet. Cara Lombardo, WSJ, 17 May 2021

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


1591, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1725, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for insolvent

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The first known use of insolvent was in 1591

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Dictionary Entries Near insolvent

insolvency law


in someone's absence

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Statistics for insolvent

Last Updated

12 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Insolvent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for insolvent



English Language Learners Definition of insolvent

: not having enough money to pay debts


in·​sol·​vent | \ in-ˈsäl-vənt How to pronounce insolvent (audio) \

Legal Definition of insolvent

1 : having ceased paying or unable to pay debts as they fall due in the usual course of business — compare bankrupt
2 : having liabilities in excess of a reasonable market value of assets held
3 : insufficient to pay all debts an insolvent estate

Other Words from insolvent

insolvent noun


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