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[lahy-uh-bil-i-tee] /ˌlaɪ əˈbɪl ɪ ti/
noun, plural liabilities.
  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, liableness. the state or quality of being liable:
liability to disease.
Origin of liability
1785-95; li(able) + -ability
Related forms
nonliability, noun, plural nonliabilities.
preliability, noun, plural preliabilities. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for liabilities
  • Of course, this is a tool that can cut both ways, but don't see your age and relative inexperience only as liabilities.
  • But total liabilities, which include short-term and long-term debt, soared.
  • Instead, investors are increasingly pricing in the corporate sector's share of growing fiscal liabilities.
  • Even if that figure overstates the problem, there is little doubt that governments are understating their pensions liabilities.
  • The liabilities will not go away if the expected rate of return fails to materialise.
  • State guarantees for bank liabilities are credible for two reasons.
  • And now they enjoy an implicit blanket guarantee of all their liabilities, allowing them to borrow cheaply.
  • After all, their names and liabilities were already on bank ledgers.
  • As their cash pile dwindles and liabilities fall due, they will be forced to sell, whatever the market conditions.
  • Acceptance of such liabilities coupled with potential allows for growth.
British Dictionary definitions for liabilities


plural noun
(accounting) business obligations incurred but not discharged and entered as claims on the assets shown on the balance sheet Compare assets (sense 1)


noun (pl) -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
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Word Origin and History for liabilities



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
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liabilities in Culture

liability definition

An obligation or debt.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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