Definition of arrears in English:


plural noun

  • Money that is owed and should have been paid earlier:

    ‘he was suing the lessee for the arrears of rent’
    ‘mortgage arrears’
    • ‘He's fallen into arrears, and the mortgage company is repossessing it on Monday.’
    • ‘The level of rent arrears does not, and cannot, affect the level of residents' council tax.’
    • ‘York housing chiefs today unveiled plans to make savings by toughening up on the collection of rent arrears.’
    • ‘Camden council, where I live, never tires of bragging of how it evicts people with rent arrears.’
    • ‘There is need to end the problem of housing allowance arrears once and for all.’
    • ‘The company owes six million leva in VAT and a further six million leva in other tax arrears.’
    • ‘She had been planning to sell the perfume and use the cash to pay off her rent arrears.’
    • ‘Her arrears dated back several years and had built up because she had struggled financially as a single mother.’
    • ‘The council is chasing a total of £4.7m in rent arrears throughout the borough.’
    • ‘After all, the arrears of rent were quite small compared to the alleged value of the inventory.’
    • ‘Every two weeks, the council reassesses the balance-sheets on outstanding rent arrears.’
    • ‘They wait until the arrears accumulate before they can take any action at all.’
    • ‘However, the city of New York was about to foreclose on the building for arrears of property taxes.’
    • ‘Two weeks ago the Keighley News revealed that she had stood for election even though she was in council tax arrears.’
    • ‘The report says a record number of people are getting into debt and that the most common debt in Scotland is council tax arrears.’
    • ‘Because of rent arrears, the district council repossessed the building in 2000.’
    • ‘She agreed that all the money was now gone but said most of it had gone towards repayment of debts and arrears.’
    • ‘Reducing arrears means more money for services and housing improvements.’
    • ‘The accountants may not withdraw from the court until all debts and arrears are fully paid.’
    • ‘One side of the Council is issuing housing benefit, while on the other it takes court action when arrears build up.’
    money owing, liabilities, indebtedness, dues
    View synonyms


Middle English (first used in the phrase in arrear): from arrear (adverb) ‘behind, overdue’, from Old French arere, from medieval Latin adretro, from ad- towards + retro backwards.