debt - definition and synonyms


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  1. 1
    [countable] an amount of money that you owe

    By this time we had debts of over £15,000.

    run up a debt (=let it increase):

    She had run up debts of nearly £10,000.

    pay (off)/repay a debt:

    Many people experience difficulty in paying off their debts.

    clear/settle a debt (=pay all of it):

    She agreed to settle her sister’s debts.

    cancel/write off a debt (=decide that it does not have to be paid):

    The bank finally agreed to cancel the debt.

    1. a.
      [uncountable] a situation in which you owe money to other people
      be in debt (to someone):

      I don’t like being in debt to anyone.

      go/get/run into debt:

      She was terrified of getting into debt.

      heavily/deeply in debt:

      Many students are heavily in debt.

  2. 2
    [singular] an obligation to be grateful to someone because they have done something for you
    owe a debt of gratitude to someone:

    I owe a debt of gratitude to my father, who has always supported me.

  3. 3
    [uncountable] economics the total amount of money that the government of a country owes to banks and to other countries that it has borrowed from