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[lahy-uh-bil-i-tee] /ˌlaɪ əˈbɪl ɪ ti/
noun, plural liabilities.
  1. moneys owed; debts or pecuniary obligations (opposed to assets).
  2. Accounting. liabilities as detailed on a balance sheet, especially in relation to assets and capital.
something disadvantageous:
His lack of education is his biggest liability.
Also, liableness. the state or quality of being liable:
liability to disease.
Origin of liability
First recorded in 1785-95; li(able) + -ability
Related forms
nonliability, noun, plural nonliabilities.
preliability, noun, plural preliabilities. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for liabilities
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • If arrested, they can have no claim to exemption from the liabilities of criminals.

  • Its liabilities were small, it was merely in want of ready-money.

  • The most intangible of assets and the most unescapable of liabilities.

    Rope Holworthy Hall
  • The liabilities thus frankly stated, let us turn to the assets.

  • How was he to pay up the liabilities of his bank shares from his dwindling practice?

    A Houseful of Girls Sarah Tytler
British Dictionary definitions for liabilities


plural noun
(accounting) business obligations incurred but not discharged and entered as claims on the assets shown on the balance sheet Compare assets (sense 1)


noun (pl) -ties
the state of being liable
a financial obligation
a hindrance or disadvantage
likelihood or probability
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
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Word Origin and History for liabilities



1790, originally a term in law; "condition of being legally liable;" see liable + -ity. General sense is from 1809; meaning "thing for which one is liable" is first attested 1842. Related: Liabilities.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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liabilities in Culture

liability definition

An obligation or debt.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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