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arrears

[uh-reerz]
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

Related Words

liabilityobligationdeficitdeficiencydebitclaim

Examples from the Web for arrear

Historical Examples

  • Say, Plornish, though six weeks in arrear to my proprietor, declines.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • The pay of the troops was long in arrear, and they were all mutinous and discontented.

    The Reign of Mary Tudor

    W. Llewelyn Williams.

  • The pay of the soldiers got more and more hopelessly into arrear.

    Theodoric the Goth

    Thomas Hodgkin

  • He had found the treasury empty and the pay of the navy in arrear.

  • Discontent was already prevalent, for the pay of the soldiers was in arrear.


British Dictionary definitions for arrear

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 arrear

c.1300, "at a disadvantage;" mid-14c., "in times past;" late 14c., "in or to the rear;" see arrears. Meaning "behind in duties or payments" is from 1620s.

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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 arrear

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.