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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

British Dictionary definitions for in 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 in arrears

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 in arrears

in arrears

Late or behind, especially in payment of money. For example, He's been in arrears on his rent so often that he may be evicted. [First half of 1600s]

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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.