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arrears

[uh-reerz]
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plural noun
  1. the state of being behind or late, especially in the fulfillment of a duty, promise, obligation, or the like: Many homeowners have fallen into arrears.
  2. Sometimes arrear. something overdue in payment; a debt that remains unpaid: Those countries that have paid their arrears may be granted additional loans.
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Idioms
  1. in arrears, behind or late, especially in payment: She was three months in arrears on her mortgage and credit card payments.Also Chiefly Law, in arrear.
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Origin of arrears

1300–50; noun use of arrear (adv., now obsolete), Middle English arere behind < Middle FrenchLatin ad retrō. See ad-, retro-
Related formsar·rear·age, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for arrears

Historical Examples

  • He has a right to claim six years' arrears—that is above L100,000.

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • So, that just when I might have had all arrears paid up, perhaps, and perhaps—who knows?

  • He was a clerk in a department store, and his board was generally in arrears.

    Cap'n Warren's Wards

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • The landlord had called that morning for his rent, which was long in arrears.

  • Can you get all your arrears of penitence done up in six weeks, Sally?

    The Dominant Strain

    Anna Chapin Ray


British Dictionary definitions for arrears

arrears

noun
  1. Also called: arrearage (əˈrɪərɪdʒ) (sometimes singular) something outstanding or owed
  2. in arrears or in arrear late in paying a debt or meeting an obligation
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Word Origin

C18: from obsolete arrear (adv) behindhand, from Old French arere, from Medieval Latin adretrō, from Latin ad to + retrō backwards
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for arrears

n.

mid-14c., "in times past," from Old French ariere "behind, backward," from Vulgar Latin *ad retro, from Latin ad "to" (see ad-) + retro "behind" (see retro-). Meaning "balance due" dates from early 15c.; phrase in arrears first recorded 1610s, but in arrearages is from late 14c.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with arrears

arrears

see in arrears.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.