Definition of debt in English:

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Pronunciation: /dɛt/


1A sum of money that is owed or due: I paid off my debts [mass noun]: a way to reduce Third World debt
More example sentences
  • Samantha Leigh, mitigating, said he had taken the money to pay gambling debts.
  • Garda sources believe the gangs may have been desperate to raise money to pay off debts.
  • If you are earning money and have big debts it may not be worth over committing yourself in savings.
bill, account, tally, financial obligation, outstanding payment, amount due, money owing;
dues, arrears, debits, charges;
North American  check
informal tab
archaic score
1.1 [mass noun] The state of owing money: the firm is heavily in debt
More example sentences
  • After the divorce was granted, Rene discovered there would be no money as her husband was heavily in debt.
  • Although the man did owe small sums of money, there is no evidence to suggest that he was heavily in debt.
  • He wanted to know why the trust was so severely in debt, despite receiving record funding from the government.
owing money, in arrears, behind with payments, late with payments, overdue with payments, overdrawn;
insolvent, bankrupt, bankrupted, ruined, in the hands of the receivers;
British  in liquidation
informal in the red, in Queer Street, on the rocks, gone to the wall, bust
British informal, dated in Carey Street
1.2A feeling of gratitude for a service or favour: I would like to acknowledge my debt to my teachers
More example sentences
  • All owe her a huge debt of gratitude for her many years of dedicated service to the Church.
  • Council chairman Alex Carder said the volunteers were owed a debt of gratitude by the rest of the community.
  • I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to those past winners who have truly inspired me.
indebtedness, obligation, liability;
gratitude, appreciation, thanks


be in someone's debt

Owe gratitude to someone for a service or favour: God bless you—I am forever in your debt
More example sentences
  • If you know of any, drop me a line and I'll be in your debt forever.
  • Steve's contribution to date has been immense and is one for which the club and all associated with it will forever be in his debt.
  • I have never really had friends like your cousin and you and I will forever be in your debt.
indebted to, beholden to, obliged to, duty-bound to, honour-bound to, obligated to, under an obligation to, owing someone a debt of gratitude, owing someone thanks;
grateful, thankful, appreciative


Middle English dette: from Old French, based on Latin debitum 'something owed', past participle of debere 'owe'. The spelling change in French and English was by association with the Latin word.

  • This comes via Old French from Latin debitum ‘something owed’, the past participle of debere ‘owe’. Debit (Late Middle English) is from the same source.

Words that rhyme with debt

abet, aiguillette, anisette, Annette, Antoinette, arête, Arlette, ate, baguette, banquette, barbette, barrette, basinet, bassinet, beget, Bernadette, beset, bet, Bette, blanquette, Brett, briquette, brochette, brunette (US brunet), Burnett, cadet, caravanette, cassette, castanet, charette, cigarette (US cigaret), clarinet, Claudette, Colette, coquette, corvette, couchette, courgette, croquette, curette, curvet, Debrett, dinette, diskette, duet, epaulette (US epaulet), flageolet, flannelette, forget, fret, galette, gazette, Georgette, get, godet, grisette, heavyset, Jeanette, jet, kitchenette, La Fayette, landaulet, launderette, layette, lazaret, leatherette, let, Lett, lorgnette, luncheonette, lunette, Lynette, maisonette, majorette, maquette, Marie-Antoinette, marionette, Marquette, marquisette, martinet, met, minaret, minuet, moquette, motet, musette, Nanette, net, noisette, nonet, novelette, nymphet, octet, Odette, on-set, oubliette, Paulette, pet, Phuket, picquet, pillaret, pincette, pipette, piquet, pirouette, planchette, pochette, quartet, quickset, quintet, regret, ret, Rhett, roomette, rosette, roulette, satinette, septet, serviette, sestet, set, sett, sextet, silhouette, soubrette, spinet, spinneret, statuette, stet, stockinet, sublet, suffragette, Suzette, sweat, thickset, threat, Tibet, toilette, tret, underlet, upset, usherette, vedette, vet, vignette, vinaigrette, wagonette, wet, whet, winceyette, yet, Yvette

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