from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Law A person, business, or organization legally declared insolvent because of inability to pay debts.
  • noun A person who is totally lacking in a specified resource or quality.
  • adjective Having been legally declared insolvent.
  • adjective Financially ruined; impoverished.
  • adjective Depleted of valuable qualities or characteristics.
  • adjective Totally depleted; destitute.
  • adjective Being in a ruined state.
  • transitive verb To cause to become financially bankrupt.
  • transitive verb To ruin.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To make insolvent; render unable to meet just claims.
  • To reduce to beggary; exhaust the resources of.
  • To become bankrupt; fail or become insolvent.
  • noun The breaking up of a trader's business due to his inability to meet his obligations; bankruptcy.
  • noun An insolvent person whose property is administered for, and distributed among, his creditors in accordance with the provisions of a system of laws called bankrupt, bankruptcy, or insolvent laws.
  • noun In popular language, a hopelessly insolvent person; one who is notoriously unable to pay his debts; hence, one who is unable to satisfy just claims of any kind made upon him.
  • In the state of one who has committed an act of bankruptcy, or is insolvent; subject to or under legal process because of insolvency.
  • Unable to pay just debts, or to meet one's obligations; insolvent.
  • Figuratively, at the end of one's resources: as, to be bankrupt in thanks.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Old Eng. Law) A trader who secretes himself, or does certain other acts tending to defraud his creditors.
  • noun A trader who becomes unable to pay his debts; an insolvent trader; popularly, any person who is unable to pay his debts; an insolvent person.
  • noun (Law) A person who, in accordance with the terms of a law relating to bankruptcy, has been judicially declared to be unable to meet his liabilities.
  • transitive verb To make bankrupt; to bring financial ruin upon; to impoverish.
  • adjective Being a bankrupt or in a condition of bankruptcy; unable to pay, or legally discharged from paying, one's debts.
  • adjective Depleted of money; not having the means of meeting pecuniary liabilities.
  • adjective Relating to bankrupts and bankruptcy.
  • adjective Destitute of, or wholly wanting (something once possessed, or something one should possess).
  • adjective a law by which the property of a person who is unable or unwilling to pay his debts may be taken and distributed to his creditors, and by which a person who has made a full surrender of his property, and is free from fraud, may be discharged from the legal obligation of his debts. See Insolvent, a.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective having been legally declared insolvent.
  • verb transitive To force into bankruptcy.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun someone who has insufficient assets to cover their debts
  • adjective financially ruined
  • verb reduce to bankruptcy


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[French banqueroute, from Italian banca rotta, broken counter (from the practice of breaking the counters of bankrupt bankers) : banca, moneychanger's table; see bank + rotta, feminine of rotto, past participle of rompere, to break (from Latin rumpere; see reup- in Indo-European roots).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Italian banca rotta, which refers to an out-of-business bank, having its bench physically broken. When a moneylender in Northern Italy would become insolvent, they would break the bench they worked from to signify that they were no longer in business.


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