- the state of being behind or late, especially in the fulfillment of a duty, promise, obligation, or the like: Many homeowners have fallen into arrears.
- Sometimes arrear. something overdue in payment; a debt that remains unpaid: Those countries that have paid their arrears may be granted additional loans.
- in arrears, behind or late, especially in payment: She was three months in arrears on her mortgage and credit card payments.Also Chiefly Law, in arrear.
- Also called: arrearage (əˈrɪərɪdʒ) (sometimes singular) something outstanding or owed
- in arrears or in arrear late in paying a debt or meeting an obligation
mid-14c., “in times past,” from Old French ariere “behind, backward,” from Vulgar Latin *ad retro, from Latin ad “to” (see ad-) + retro “behind” (see retro-). Meaning “balance due” dates from early 15c.; phrase in arrears first recorded 1610s, but in arrearages is from late 14c.
Late or behind, especially in payment of money. For example, He’s been in arrears on his rent so often that he may be evicted. [First half of 1600s]
see in arrears.