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