1. a : a specific sum of money or a performance due another especially by agreement (as a loan agreement) to pay the debts…of the United States —U.S. Constitution art. I a debt for alimony

    b : an obligation to pay or perform on another's claim discharged the debt — compare asset, equity 4

    Note: It is often up to the courts to decide what is or is not a debt under various laws. Courts disagree whether criminal restitution is a debt under the Bankruptcy Code.

    — antecedent debt
    : debt that is incurred prior to a property transfer paying or securing the debt — compare preference

    — bad debt
    : a debt that cannot be collected Note: An income tax deduction is allowed for bad debts.

    — consumer debt
    : debt that is incurred by an individual primarily for the purchase of consumer goods or services — compare consumer credit

    — judgment debt
    : a debt established by a judgment and enforceable by a legal process (as an execution of judgment or attachment)

    c : a state of owing in debt

    d : the aggregate of money owed the national debt

  1. : the common-law action for the recovery of a specified sum of money or a sum that can be simply and certainly determined — called also action of debt, writ of debt; compare assumpsit, covenant