[ rahyt-awf, -of ]
/ ˈraɪtˌɔf, -ˌɒf /
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a cancellation from the accounts as a loss.
an uncollectable account.
a reduction in book value; depreciation.
Informal. a person or thing that is given up as hopeless or pointless: Joe's college career is a write-off.
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Origin of write-off

First recorded in 1745–55; noun use of verb phrase write off
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use write-off in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for write-off

write off

verb (tr, adverb)
  1. to cancel (a bad debt or obsolete asset) from the accounts
  2. to consider (a transaction, etc) as a loss or set off (a loss) against revenues
  3. to depreciate (an asset) by periodic charges
  4. to charge (a specified amount) against gross profits as depreciation of an asset
to cause or acknowledge the complete loss of
to send a written order for (something)she wrote off for a brochure
informal to damage (something, esp a car) beyond repair
noun write-off
  1. the act of cancelling a bad debt or obsolete asset from the accounts
  2. the bad debt or obsolete asset cancelled
  3. the amount cancelled against gross profits, corresponding to the book value of the bad debt or obsolete asset
informal something damaged beyond repair, esp a car
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

Other Idioms and Phrases with write-off

write off


Reduce an asset's book value to zero because it is worthless, as in The truck was wrecked completely, so we can write it off. [Late 1600s]


Cancel from an account as a loss, as in Since they'll never be able to pay back what they owe, let's just write off that debt. [Late 1800s] Also see charge off, def. 2.


Regard as a failure or worthless, as in There was nothing to do but write off the first day of our trip because of the bad weather, or She resented their tendency to write her off as a mere housewife. [Late 1800s]


Amortize, as in We can write off the new computer network in two years or less. Also see charge off, def. 2.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.