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Legal Definition of debt

1: something owed: as a: a specific sum of money or a performance due another especially by agreement (as a loan agreement) to pay the debts …of the United States — U.S. Constitution art. I a debt for alimony b: an obligation to pay or perform on another’s claim discharged the debt — compare asset. equity 4 Editor’s note: It is often up to the courts to decide what is or is not a debt under various laws. Courts disagree whether criminal restitution is a debt under the Bankruptcy Code. antecedent debt: debt that is incurred prior to a property transfer paying or securing the debt — compare preference bad debt: a debt that cannot be collected Editor’s note: An income tax deduction is allowed for bad debts. consumer debt: debt that is incurred by an individual primarily for the purchase of consumer goods or services — compare consumer credit judgment debt: a debt established by a judgment and enforceable by a legal process (as an execution of judgment or attachment) c: a state of owing in debt d: the aggregate of money owed the national debt

2: the common-law action for the recovery of a specified sum of money or a sum that can be simply and certainly determined —called also action of debt, writ of debt — compare assumpsit. covenant

Origin and Etymology of debt

Old French dette. ultimately from Latin debita. plural of debitum debt, from neuter of debitus. past participle of debere to owe

Learn More about debt

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for debt Spanish Central: Translation of debt Nglish: Translation of debt for Spanish speakers Britannica English: Translation of debt for Arabic speakers Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about debt



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