noun, plural li·a·bil·i·ties.

  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 li·a·ble·ness. the state or quality of being liable: liability to disease.

Nearby words

  1. li yüan,
  2. li-fraumeni cancer syndrome,
  3. li-sao,
  4. lia,
  5. liabilities,
  6. liability engineering,
  7. liability insurance,
  8. liability limit,
  9. liable,
  10. liaise

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for liability

British Dictionary definitions for liability


noun plural -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

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

Culture definitions for liability


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.