See more synonyms for liability on
noun, plural li·a·bil·i·ties.
  1. 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.
  2. something disadvantageous: His lack of education is his biggest liability.
  3. Also li·a·ble·ness. the state or quality of being liable: liability to disease.

Origin of liability

First recorded in 1785–95; li(able) + -ability
Related formsnon·li·a·bil·i·ty, noun, plural non·li·a·bil·i·ties.pre·li·a·bil·i·ty, noun, plural pre·li·a·bil·i·ties. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for liability


noun plural -ties
  1. the state of being liable
  2. a financial obligation
  3. a hindrance or disadvantage
  4. 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

Word Origin and History for liability

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

liability in Culture


An obligation or debt.

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