October 16, 2011
arrears (noun)
\uh-REERZ\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : the state of being behind in the paying of debts2 : unpaid or overdue debts
How do you use it?
After a couple months of being in arrears with the rent, the roommates finally got caught up and started paying rent on time again.
Are you a word wiz?

Don't get behind on answering this one; start right away! Which of the following words do you think shares a common ancestor with "arrears"?

We won't hold back the answer! It's B, "retroactive." Both "arrears" and "retroactive" have as a Latin ancestor the word "retro," meaning "back." "Arrears" traces back through French to the Latin phrase "ad retro," meaning "backward." "Retroactive," which means "intended to apply or take effect at a date in the past," also traces back through French to its Latin ancestor. It derives from the Latin word "retroagere," meaning "to drive back, reverse," a combination of "retro" and "agere," meaning "drive."
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