AskDefine | Define debit

Dictionary Definition

debit n : an accounting entry acknowledging sums that are owing [syn: debit entry] [ant: credit] v : enter as debit [ant: credit]

User Contributed Dictionary



From debet (French: débit).



  1. In bookkeeping, an entry in the left hand column of an account to record a debt.
  2. A sum of money taken out of an account.

Derived terms


  • Portuguese: débito
  • Nederlands: debet

See also


  1. To make an entry on the debit side of an account.
  2. To remove a sum of money from an account as a payment.


  1. of or relating to process of taking money from an account
  2. of or relating to the debit card function of a debit card rather than its often available credit card function


Derived terms

Extensive Definition

[[Double-entry bookkeeping system|
Debit and credit are formal bookkeeping and accounting terms.


Debits and Credits are the most fundamental concepts in accounting.
In accounting theory, the financial aspects of an entity, stated in terms of units of currency, is calculated using the "accounting equation," which is that Assets equal Liabilities plus Capital. Each Asset, Liability and Capital account contains debit and credit transactions that allow for the calculation of values for these accounts.
Debits and credits are a system of notation developed before a concept of positive and negative numbers were in use. If a certain type of account normally has a debit balance, a credit balance is a way of denoting a negative quantity of that item. For example, an account (in your books) for your account at the bank (an account on the bank's books) normally has a debit balance, meaning that the bank owes you the money (or that the money is yours, if you prefer). If that account in your books has a credit balance, you owe the bank money (you're overdrawn). The account in the bank's books normally has a debit balance, meaning the bank owes you the money (it's your money). Nobody inventing double-entry bookkeeping today would use left-and-right debits and credits--he or she would certainly use positive and negative numbers, which is exactly what almost all computer programs do that perform bookkeeping. Indeed, that is a convention (debits are positive, credits are negative) that goes back to the computer programming language COBOL. It would be better to think of double-entry bookkeeping as a system (in the abstract sense of the word) in which the "entity" begins with nothing, and every change in assets (a debit to increase, a credit to decrease) has an equal and opposite reaction. It sounds almost Newtonian when you look at it that way.
The accounts are collectively referred to as the ledger. A journal is a place where entries (debits and credits) are written before they are written in the ledger. Modern computer systems generally have you make entries directly to the ledger and then produce printouts that are designed to look as if they were journals, which they may not be in reality. Of course, the computer software you are using will have a built-in feature to make sure your debits equal your credits, which is one of the chief benefits of old-fashioned journals anyway. For each transaction, one or more account(s) is(are) debited, and one or more account(s) is(are) credited. The total value of the debits must equal the total value of the credits. A debit journal increases the balance on a debit value account and reduces the balance on a credit value account. A credit journal increases the the balance on a credit value account and reduces the balance on a debit value account.
In an asset account, a debit entry signifies the receipt of new assets, and thus represents an increase in assets. In a liability account, a debit entry represents a sum to be applied toward the satisfaction of the liability, and therefore decreases the liability.
There are different types of accounts and these accounts are expected to hold either a debit balance or a credit balance. Asset accounts and expense accounts are expected to always have a debit balance. Gain, Income and Liability Accounts are expected to always have a credit balance.

Origin of the terms debit and credit

The terms Debit and Credit have Latin roots. Debit comes from debere, which means "to owe". The Latin debitum means "debt". Credit comes from the Latin word credere, which means "to believe" or "to entrust". It is more common to use the plural terms "Debits" and "Credits".
Historically the Debit side of an account is the left hand side of a general ledger account, while the Credit side of an account refers to the right hand side.
The concepts of 'positive' and 'negative' are different from those of 'credit' and 'debit'. While it is true that an asset account having a debit balance is in receipt of more credits than it has issued and has positive value to the entity being tracked, and a liability account having a credit balance has extended more credit than has been repaid and has a negative value to the entity being tracked, not all accounts carrying a credit balance are liabilities nor are all accounts carrying a debit balance assets. For example revenue accounts usually extend credit to asset accounts, but these credits do not have to be repaid, so they are not liabilities. As another example, expense accounts, having received credits from other asset accounts to pay expenses, carry a debit balance, but are not considered assets. The distinction between "real" accounts and "nominal" accounts is that "nominal" accounts are accounts in which to record changes in the equity or net worth. These are the revenue and expense accounts and should be thought of as a variety of equity accounts (recording how much the "entity" owes, in a sense, to the owner(s)). Computers have no concept of "left" and "right", so instead, computer accounting systems use negative numbers to represent credits, and positive numbers to represent debits. This makes sense because a debit entry represents an inflow into an account and a credit entry represents an outlay from an account, but can seem counterintuitive until one recognizes that the receiving account is the nominal debtor and the distributing account is the nominal creditor. For example, a credit (negative value) is recorded in sales account in order for the receipt of the sale amount to be recorded as a debit (positive number) in an asset account.
If the value of the debits is greater than the value of the credits, then the balance on the account is a debit balance and should not be described as a positive value balance, but should be described as an account with a debit balance.
Debit can be abbreviated as Dr., while credit can be abbreviated as Cr.
Debits and Credits are recorded in a T account as shown below
Debit entries are made on the left side of the vertical line and credit entries are made on on the right side of the vertical line.
Debits and credits are neither positive nor negative values. The balance on an account is either a debit or a credit, not a positive or a negative value.
Dividend, Expense, Asset and Losses (abbreviated as "D-E-A-L") accounts increase in value when debited and decrease when credited, whereas Gains, Income, Revenues, Liability and Stockholder's (Owner's) equity (abbreviated as "G-I-R-L-S") accounts decrease in value when debited and increase when credited.
This distinction is somewhat counterintuitive, until the nature of those accounts is more closely scrutinized. For example, revenue is coded as a credit. After recording a day's sales invoices, the company will have credited a certain amount in revenue, but the customer's ledger will hold a debit balance being the amount of the unpaid invoices. To fully understand this see Double-entry bookkeeping system where Debits and Credits form the core of that system.
For instance, the journal entry for paying the telephone bill might look like this:
The telephone company would record the exact same transaction (from their side) like this:
Confusion also arises where the term debit is also informally referred to as a "charge" as in a charge card or a debit card and that credit is a limit set or an amount granted by a company to its customers as in a credit limit. They are used in a different context in these two cases.
It is often assumed that a debit decreases a balance, and a credit increases it, because this is how the terms are shown on bank statements and using a debit card decreases the balance in one's bank account. However, this is because bank statements are traditionally written from the bank's perspective, where the customer's account is a liability. By withdrawing money, the customer is decreasing the bank's liability. Since liability accounts normally have a credit balance, the withdrawal of cash from a banking account is reflected on the bank's balance sheet as a debit.

Principles or Rules of Debit and Credit

All the account heads used in Accounting systems are classified under two types of Accounts i.e Real Account and Nominal Account.
Real Account: Debit what comes in, Credit what goes out.
Nominal Account: Debit all expenses/losses, Credit all incomes/gains
An account for a building you own (an asset) could be thought of as representing how much the building owes you (or the entity, if you prefer) for future building services (shelter, etc.). In that sense, all accounts, even those pertaining to inanimate objects, could be thought of in the same way as "persons".


External links

debit in Danish: Debet og kredit
debit in German: Soll
debit in Spanish: Crédito
debit in Spanish: Débito
debit in Indonesian: Kredit (akuntansi)
debit in Indonesian: Debit
debit in Georgian: დებეტი
debit in Lithuanian: Debetas
debit in Lithuanian: Kreditas
debit in Dutch: credit
debit in Japanese: 借方
debit in Japanese: 貸方
debit in Norwegian: Debet
debit in Polish: Debet
debit in Portuguese: Débito e crédito (contabilidade)
debit in Russian: Кредит (бухгалтерский учёт)
debit in Russian: Дебет
debit in Swedish: Debet
debit in Ukrainian: Дебет

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

balance, balance the books, bereavement, book, budgeting, capitalize, carry, carry over, cast up accounts, charge off, close out, close the books, cost, costing, costing-out, credit, damage, dead loss, debiting, deficit spending, denial, denudation, deprivation, despoilment, destruction, detriment, disbursal, disbursement, dispossession, divestment, docket, double entry, enter, entry, expenditure, expense, forfeit, forfeiture, injury, item, journalize, keep books, log, loser, losing, losing streak, loss, make an entry, minute, notation, note, payment, perdition, post, post up, privation, robbery, ruin, sacrifice, scheduling, single entry, spending, spoliation, strike a balance, stripping, taking away, total loss
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