Money borrowed. The New York Times Financial Glossary

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debt debt [det] noun
1. [countable] money that one person, organization, country etc owes to another:

• The country will not receive further funds after it failed to repay debts of $16 million.

• The importer will have to settle his debt in the exporter's currency.

• Once we have cleared the debt (= paid it ) , we could buy a car with another loan.

2. [uncountable] the state of owing money:

• Families in debt on their fuel bills are already choosing between heating and eating.

• People with children are much more likely to get into debt than people without children.

• He was so heavily in debt that he had to sell off his house and car.

3. [uncountable] FINANCE COMMERCE capital borrowed by a business or government organization on which it pays interest:

• We need to sell assets to reduce our debt.

• This company has enormous cash flow and it should have no problem servicing its debt (= making interest payments on its debt ) .

• If you possibly can, use the cash to pay down debt (= reduce the amount of debt owed ) .

• We should now be able to get cheaper loans, retire our costliest debt (= repay loans ) and improve our capital structure.

• The IMF has failed to find money to help write off debts (= to no longer expect or demand repayment ) of the poorest countries.

— see also acknowledgement of debt
ˌbad ˈdebt [countable, uncountable] FINANCE
a debt that will probably never be paid, and is therefore worthless to the person or company that is owed the money:

• Bad debts caused by the last recession wiped out the bank's operating profit this year.

• The company has been reluctant to write off bad debts (= accept that they will never be paid ) .

ˈbank debt [uncountable] BANKING FINANCE
money owed to banks, rather than other types of lenders:

• Fries has about $25 million in bank debt and $25 million of 7.5% bonds.

ˈbook debt
1. [countable, uncountable] ACCOUNTING FINANCE money owed to a company by its customers, as shown in its financial records:

• the administrative burden of collecting book debt

2. [countable, uncountable] ACCOUNTING FINANCE the amount of debt owed by a company to banks etc, as shown in its balance sheet
conˈsumer debt [uncountable] FINANCE
money owed by people, rather than businesses or countries:

• The high level of consumer debt is holding house-building back.

ˈcorporate debt [uncountable] FINANCE
money owed by businesses, rather than governments or individuals
ˈdoubtful debt [countable] ACCOUNTING FINANCE
a debt that is not likely to be repaid:

• The recession reduced demand for financing and created more bad and doubtful debts.

exˈternal debt [uncountable] FINANCE
money that a country owes to other countries:

• the external debt problems of developing countries

ˌfixed-ˈrate debt [uncountable] FINANCE BANKING
debt with an interest rate that does not change
ˈfloating debt [uncountable] FINANCE BANKING
debt with an interest rate that changes:

• The treasurer must maintain a safe relationship between amounts of floating and fixed-rate debt.

ˈforeign debt [countable, uncountable] FINANCE
money that a country owes to lenders abroad; = EXTERNAL DEBT:

• Most of the country's foreign debt is owed to private banks rather than to governments.

inˈvestment-grade ˌdebt [uncountable] FINANCE
debt that has a low risk of not being repaid:

• The firm was also the second largest underwriter of investment-grade debt.

ˈjudgement debt also judgment debt [countable] LAW
a debt that a court has ordered to be paid:

• The plan must be approved by banks and shareholders, and also depends on payment of a £50 million judgment debt owed to the hotel group.

ˈjunior debt [uncountable] FINANCE
debt that a borrower in financial difficulty will not repay until after other debts are repaid, or of which it will only repay a smaller percentage:

• The senior lender may require that no repayment of the junior debt whatsoever be made at any time until the senior debt is repaid in full.

ˌlong-term ˈdebt [uncountable] FINANCE
debt that is to be repaid a long time after the money is borrowed
ˌmedium-term ˈdebt [uncountable] FINANCE
debt that is to be repaid between one and 10 years after the money is borrowed
ˈmezzanine ˌdebt [uncountable] FINANCE
debt that a borrower in financial difficulty will repay after senior debt, but before it repays other lenders and shareholders
ˌnational ˈdebt [uncountable] FINANCE
money borrowed and still owed by a country
ˌpublic ˈdebt FINANCE
1. [uncountable] money owed by a local or national government
2. [uncountable] debt in the form of loans obtained on financial markets, rather than other forms of lending
seˌcured ˈdebt [uncountable] FINANCE BANKING
debt that is supported by particular assets of the borrower. If the borrower is in financial difficulty, they must sell these assets to repay the lender
ˈsenior debt [uncountable] FINANCE
debt that a borrower in financial difficulty will repay first, or of which they will pay a bigger percentage than other types of debt
ˌshort-term ˈdebt [uncountable] FINANCE
debt that is to be repaid a short time after the money is borrowed, usually within one year
ˈsovereign debt [uncountable] FINANCE
money owed by a government, rather than a company or person
subˌordinated ˈdebt [uncountable]
debt that a borrower in financial difficulty will not repay until after other debts are repaid, or of which it will repay a smaller percentage
ˌThird World ˈdebt [uncountable] FINANCE
money owed by developing countries:

• the prime minister's much-publicized plan to solve the Third World debt crisis

ˈtrade debt [uncountable] FINANCE
money that a business owes to its supplier S:

• The company owes about $300 million in trade debt and about $300 million in bank debt.

ˌunsecured ˈdebt [uncountable] FINANCE
debt that is not supported by any assets of a borrower

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   The supply of funds from a creditor to a debtor in exchange for interest and a commitment to return the funds in full at a fixed date in the future. Debt is usually in the form of financial instruments such as bonds, bills and notes. Creditors, who can be private individuals, banks or institutions such as pension funds and insurance companies, lend the money in the belief that the debtor will honour the obligation to pay the interest and eventually to repay the capital of the loan. Debt instruments have a defined life, a maturity date and normally pay a fixed rate of interest. All purchasers of debt have a supply of cash which is not immediately needed, on which they wish to earn interest until it is required for their own direct use. The interest is a payment for their willingness to forgo use of the funds for a fixed time.
   ► See also Bond, Bill, National Debt, Notes.

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debt UK US /det/ noun
[C or U] FINANCE the amount of money that is owed by a person, company, country, etc. and that they usually have to pay interest on: »

Financing will consist of $200 million of debt in the form of a five-year term loan.


Companies become insolvent because they cannot pay their debts.

amass/incur/run up a debt of »

Investors fear the insurance company will have amassed debts of more than €22.5 million by the end of the year.

repay/pay off/clear a debt »

When applying for a loan, customers may be required to prove their ability to repay the debt.

settle/resolve/retire a debt »

The country's foreign exchange reserves were adequate to settle the entire debt this year.

cut/pay down/reduce a debt »

Our credit counselors will work with you to help you to reduce your debt.

refinance/reschedule/restructure a debt »

The plan also includes restructuring of long-term debts at lower interest rates.

write off/cancel a debt »

State law allows cities to write off uncollectable debts with the approval of the city council.


If the market does not improve, these businesses may not be able to service their debts, and we may see more bankruptcies.


This arrangement is useful for those who need to consolidate their debts .

be burdened/saddled with debt(s) »

Young college graduates are saddled with crippling debts.

[U] the situation of owing money, or of not having enough money to pay what you owe: consumer/corporate/federal debt »

Consumer debt is high, with record-level defaults on credit cards and mortgage loans.


Now solvent, the conglomerate was $14 billion in debt when Jones took over as the new CEO.

fall/get/go into debt »

With college tuition and housing prices rising, more and more families are falling into debt.

get/keep/stay out of debt »

By setting up a debt repayment plan he was able to pay off his creditors and stay out of debt for good.

See also BAD DEBT(Cf. ↑bad debt), BANK DEBT(Cf. ↑bank debt), BOOK DEBT(Cf. ↑book debt), CONSUMER DEBT(Cf. ↑consumer debt), CORPORATE DEBT(Cf. ↑corporate debt), DOUBTFUL DEBT(Cf. ↑doubtful debt), EXTERNAL DEBT(Cf. ↑external debt), FLOATING DEBT(Cf. ↑floating debt), FOREIGN DEBT(Cf. ↑foreign debt), JUDGMENT DEBT(Cf. ↑judgment debt), JUNIOR DEBT(Cf. ↑junior debt), LONG-TERM DEBT(Cf. ↑long-term debt), MEDIUM-TERM DEBT(Cf. ↑medium-term debt), NATIONAL DEBT(Cf. ↑national debt), PUBLIC DEBT(Cf. ↑public debt), SECURED DEBT(Cf. ↑secured debt), SENIOR DEBT(Cf. ↑senior debt), SHORT-TERM DEBT(Cf. ↑short-term debt), SOVEREIGN DEBT(Cf. ↑sovereign debt), THIRD WORLD DEBT(Cf. ↑Third World debt), TRADE DEBT(Cf. ↑trade debt), UNSECURED DEBT(Cf. ↑unsecured debt)

Financial and business terms. 2012.

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  • Debt — Debt, n. [OE. dette, F. dette, LL. debita, fr. L. debitus owed, p. p. of debere to owe, prop., to have on loan; de + habere to have. See {Habit}, and cf. {Debit}, {Due}.] 1. That which is due from one person to another, whether money, goods, or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • debt — debt; debt·less; debt·or; in·debt; in·debt·ed; in·debt·ed·ness; in·debt·ment; …   English syllables

  • debt — debt, indebtedness, obligation, liability, debit, arrear mean something, and especially a sum of money, that is owed another. Debt usually implies that the amount is owed in return for goods, property, or services and can be definitely computed… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

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