ie. Knowing that they have an unpaid debt, yet doesn't care.

I suppose "he is renouncing his debt" would be fine, but it doesn't seem to flow well.

"he is abandoning his debt" doesn't sound too good either, so are there any better alternatives?


5 Answers 5


In BrE, deliberately running away from a debt is "welshing". You welsh on a debt.

  • The AmE equivalent is "welching," which follows the same pattern.
    – Nicole
    Apr 22, 2015 at 20:28
  • 3
    In American English, welching is usually reserved for bets, not debts. You welch on a bet.
    – adj7388
    Apr 22, 2015 at 20:35
  • 2
    It's probably best to avoid an unnecessary slur, though, no matter how old of a term.
    – Cord
    Apr 22, 2015 at 20:36
  • 1
    @adj7388: But if you lose a bet, you have a debt, ergo you are welshing on a debt, no?
    – David Pugh
    Apr 23, 2015 at 9:04
  • @Cord. Look at my surname; I am somewhat Welsh myself, though I never welsh. (smiley, if these work/are allowed here)
    – David Pugh
    Apr 23, 2015 at 9:35

A fairly proper and all-encompassing verb would be "renege":

He is reneging on his debts.

It does somewhat depends on why he is not paying his debts. Does he no longer believe debt is a valid measure in society? Is he now jobless and unable to pay debts he would like to otherwise pay? Different verbs will convey those different intents, but "reneging" should satisfy any of them.


Deadbeat -- a very common american usage.


He's being delinquent on his debts/in paying his debts


: failing to pay an amount of money that is owed


: a status that suggests to a lender that you are late in paying your debts. Being delinquent on your debts often means being more than 30 days late twice or 60 days late once. Being delinquent often means your account is handed over to a collection agency for collecting payment. This step not only results in you being called at home for payment, but also undermines your credit history.

Provident Credit Union

: North American In arrears: delinquent accounts

: formal Failing in one’s duty.

Oxford Dictionaries

... you will learn that once a person in our society has developed a history of being delinquent on his debts he will, most likely, continue those payment habits for the rest of his adult life.

Cash Or Credit?: A Nuts and Bolts Guide to Effective Credit Management

Also, He's being derelict in paying his debts


: neglectful of duty; delinquent; negligent.

Random House

: chiefly North American (Of a person) shamefully negligent in not having done what one should have done: he was derelict in his duty to his country

Oxford Dictionaries


In the USA with student loans, we use default: he defaulted on his loans. But that doesn't specifically mean that person doesn't care. Even wikipedia has a page on defaulting on student loans: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Student_loan_default_in_the_United_States

  • 1
    Default refers to a financial status, not an emotional one.
    – choster
    Jul 7, 2015 at 19:03

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