Definition of deficit in English:



  • 1The amount by which something, especially a sum of money, is too small.

    • ‘For next year, the government is targeting a lower deficit of 1 percent of GDP.’
    • ‘The fund will absorb the deficit in the Rover pension scheme, which officially stands at £67.6m.’
    • ‘"We are facing a projected budget deficit for the next year of £300,000.’
    • ‘The pension scheme, which had a deficit amounting to some £80m, was part of this restructuring.’
    • ‘The company doubled its input last year to £225m, but the deficit in its fund rose by roughly the same amount.’
    • ‘They had turned a five-point deficit into a one-point lead inside six minutes.’
    • ‘The US's balance of payments deficit rose to 4.5 percent of national income.’
    • ‘The value for the General Fund deficit is based on deficits equal to 5% of GDP.’
    • ‘He promises to cut the nearly $500 billion deficit in half in four years.’
    • ‘They turned a five points deficit into a six points lead in 20 minutes.’
    • ‘The state's deficit for the coming fiscal year was expected to be $20 billion before today's announcement.’
    • ‘One of them is designed to reduce the federal budget deficit by almost $40 billion over five years.’
    • ‘It's nice to know that in an age of 500 billion dollar deficits, this is what our elected leaders are wasting their time on.’
    • ‘Last year that deficit soared to a new record of $162 billion.’
    • ‘The Friary boys had turned a two point deficit into an eight point lead in ten devastating minutes.’
    • ‘Just 12% of the vice chancellors said they thought top-up fees would meet the funding deficit.’
    • ‘While this may simply be a blip, if people are seriously divesting from the country because they don't want to be exposed to a trillion dollar deficit, it spells big trouble.’
    shortfall, deficiency, shortage, undersupply, slippage
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 An excess of expenditure or liabilities over income or assets in a given period.
      ‘an annual operating deficit’
      mass noun ‘the balance of payments is again in deficit’
      • ‘There are two ways that government budget deficits impact the economy: inflation and higher interest rates.’
      • ‘Wartime was a period of massive fiscal deficits and huge current account surpluses.’
      • ‘We have trade balance deficits and budget deficits, and huge input ratios of the future technologies.’
      • ‘Unions and pension bodies have been particularly concerned about the plight of workers whose firms close with the pension scheme in deficit.’
      • ‘For several countries, reducing their annual budget deficits to below 3% of gross domestic product will be the first big hurdle.’
      • ‘Budget deficits must be financed, which implies that the stock of government financial liabilities is rising over time.’
      • ‘In a dollarized monetary system, the national government cannot devalue the currency or finance budget deficits by creating inflation because it does not issue the currency.’
      • ‘The twin budget and current-account deficits are soaring.’
      • ‘Artificially stimulating the economy by large budget deficits and/or inflationary monetary policy is no viable option.’
      • ‘When a current account is in deficit, it usually means that a country is investing more abroad than it is saving at home.’
      • ‘The methods used by countries of the region to finance their budget deficits were generally inflationary.’
      • ‘Smurfit was in deficit at its last year-end, so its position is likely to have got a lot worse.’
      • ‘Our tests suggest that, on average, Canadian investors regard pension deficits as liabilities of the sponsoring firm, but do not regard surpluses as assets of the firm.’
      • ‘The measures follow the government's recent cuts in public spending and a spate of redundancies as it has sought to slash budget deficits for 2001 in excess of European Union limits.’
      • ‘The European Union controls budget deficits, exchange rates and interest rates.’
      • ‘In order to avoid colossal budget deficits, many economists say, the U.S. will need to slash benefits, raise taxes, or both.’
      • ‘It is common for a company to trade when its shareholders' funds as shown in the balance sheet are in deficit.’
      • ‘The budget deficit is the shortfall between the government's income, such as tax revenues, and its level of spending.’
      • ‘The cure, it is said, must come from increased public expenditures that are financed by government budget deficits along with the increases of money supply and credit expansion.’
      • ‘The government budget is now significantly in deficit, so the fiscal card has largely been played.’
    2. 1.2 (in sport) the amount or score by which a team or individual is losing.
      ‘a 3–0 deficit’
      • ‘Four of those comebacks were from deficits of five or more runs; the team never overcame such a deficit from 2001-03.’
      • ‘He trailed 10-5 in the decider but reduced the deficit to one point, only for Shon to produce a late surge to clinch the match.’
      • ‘A penalty goal by Harrison reduced the deficit to 6 points and it would have been a brave bet on the winner at this stage.’
      • ‘They wiped out an eight-point deficit from the away leg to win 97-85 overall and take the aggregate bonus point.’
      • ‘Garrymore had just fought back from a four point deficit to level the scores at 0-8 each.’
      • ‘They have come back from deficits of 13 or more six times this season.’
      • ‘They often start too slowly, having to erase double-digit deficits.’
      • ‘Now back within two, Croatia made the most of its next power play to cut the deficit to one on a score by Samir Barac.’
      • ‘Paul Tomlinson, Stevie Attinson and Darren Fox scored to reduce the deficit to 9-3.’
      • ‘Phil Howell reduced the deficit to a single point with a well struck penalty but Doncaster clinched it with a converted try.’
      • ‘That didn't work as the team dug itself into a double-digit deficit in the division.’
      • ‘Before that Hogan had reduced the deficit to a point after the Dalesmen had been penalised for crossing.’
      • ‘The win was in dramatic fashion as the Clan overcame a deficit and scored 21 fourth-quarter points.’
      • ‘Then they returned the compliment by charging down a goal line clearance to reduce the deficit to 31-21.’
      • ‘Had he scored, the deficit would have been back to two points.’
      • ‘Milan Baros Inspired the Czech Republic to come back from a two-goal deficit in a display that will stick in the memory for a magical equalising goal.’
      • ‘Federer hasn't lost to Hewitt since a 2003 Davis Cup tie where the Australian came back from a two-set deficit.’
      • ‘However in their true style Tullow fought back and Tom Kealy scored to reduce the deficit to just one.’
      • ‘Boys Club still had fight in them and Nicky Pearson scored to cut the deficit to one goal again but despite plenty of pressure they could not force extra time.’
    3. 1.3technical A deficiency or failing, especially in a neurological or psychological function.
      ‘deficits in speech comprehension’
      • ‘Patients who survive their strokes without massive neurological deficits always show significant functional improvement.’
      • ‘Both in utero exposures to maternal smoking and asthma are associated with chronic deficits in lung function.’
      • ‘Moffitt suggested these difficulties were linked to neurological deficits in verbal regulation of behaviour and in executive functioning.’
      • ‘It is possible that the deficits in lung function in persistent and transient wheezers may have already been present at a much younger age.’
      • ‘The nurse notifies the surgeon if the patient exhibits neurological deficits, bleeding, or impaired respiratory function or is in acute distress.’


Late 18th century: via French from Latin deficit ‘it is lacking’, from the verb deficere (see defect).