I am looking for an idiomatic word to describe what a deadbeat does of refusing repaying. In my country, this behavior is described as 'laizhang', literally means a person refusing to repay the money he owes intentionally. an example of it would be:

That deadbeat, he borrowed $1000 from someone last year and promised to repay it this year, but now he___, denying the loan he owes and trying to get away with it.

Is there a general word to say it in English? What do you call this behavior in daily life conversation? thanks.

edit: @1006a I am looking for a word to specifically describe someone who can pay but won't in spoken English, I think that's a different request, thanks.

  • 2
    If he's left town to avoid paying, he's skipped out on a debt. Jun 27, 2017 at 17:14
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    AmEng: to weasel out of paying and BrEng do a moonlight flit
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 27, 2017 at 18:05
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    The answers there are primarily single-word verbs, however, and would overlap almost perfectly with answers here, e.g. welsh, renege, shirk.
    – 1006a
    Jun 27, 2017 at 18:10
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    @1006a i see, if it has to be that you combine the two question together, would you consider migrating the other one to mine? i think my question might be more clear to understand to possible people in the future that look for similar answers, with richer in details and format.
    – user239460
    Jun 27, 2017 at 18:36
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    @Azor-Ahai - Chinese. lài zhàng : "to renege on a debt"
    – Mazura
    Jun 28, 2017 at 0:39

5 Answers 5


Another alternative would be renege:

to go back on a promise or commitment
from m-w.com

This lacks the cultural slur of welsh/welch and is also widely used and understood. (Many of the example sentences at the M-W definition involve promises of payment, exactly as in your proposed sentence.)

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    This word fits in the example sentence quite well: "but now he reneged." Jun 27, 2017 at 20:14
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    I don't like this as much because "deadbeats" doesn't really go with "renege." Jun 27, 2017 at 21:33

A common expression here in the US is to say someone stiffed someone else. It works for private loans or debts or even for defaulting on a formal loan, as in

"I had the money to repay the bank, then a gorgeous woman wanted me to take her to Cancun, so I decided to stiff the bank".

The expression is also used for tacit debts, for example,

"I was so embarrassed when my date stiffed the bartender last night"

(meaning, did not leave a tip).

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    Short for stiff-arm, an American football maneuver in which a ball-carrier pushes on the face of a defender trying to tackle him (this is allowed by the rules). The idea is avoiding a responsibility. I have also heard people use the word arm as a verb with the same meaning; She armed us! when it had been arranged that she would pay. Jun 27, 2017 at 17:32
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    Yes. It is commonly used for private debts.
    – CWill
    Jun 27, 2017 at 18:13
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    Yes, it is, in my experience, more common person-to-person, rather than to businesses, as in, if you loan my brother money, he will definitely stiff you. I wouldn't, personally, use it for, say, a bank loan or utility bill, because companies usually have more resources for recovering the funds. Jun 27, 2017 at 19:08
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    I agree that you would not use this on any debt where the creditor has the means to legally compel payment, so you wouldn't say that you stiffed the bank or the IRS (unless you actually got away with not paying and they give up on trying to collect). You could stiff the mob over your gambling debts, but I wouldn't recommend it.
    – Hellion
    Jun 27, 2017 at 20:33
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    @JohnLawler Where'd you find that? Etymoline doesn't support it: etymonline.com/index.php?term=stiff&allowed_in_frame=0 (genuinely curious) Jun 27, 2017 at 21:35

You could say he welched (or welshed):

informal, now sometimes offensive : to avoid payment —used with on
from m-w.com

It would more commonly be used, as the definition implies, with "on", as in "he welched on the debt", but is fine alone if the debt or obligation has already been mentioned.

It is listed as "sometimes offensive" because it is a reference to "Welsh", that is, the natives or inhabitants of Wales, and their supposedly stereotypical tendency to try to avoid paying their debts.

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    thanks. is there a verb that's not offensive and generally used and widely accepted? i mean in spoken English.
    – user239460
    Jun 27, 2017 at 17:33
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    @user239460 While the origin may be related to a derogatory cultgural reference, I don't think most modern speakers are aware of the relationship.
    – Barmar
    Jun 27, 2017 at 18:46
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    not commonly used, in my experience.
    – user175542
    Jun 27, 2017 at 19:01
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    @Barmar I disagree. People tend to guess relationships between words, even when they're not there. For example, "niggardly" is seldom used these days because it sounds like "nigger", even though the two words are completely unrelated. People in the US probably don't think about Wales very much but I'd expect people in the UK to (correctly) guess the relationship between "welch/welsh" and the Welsh. Jun 28, 2017 at 8:05
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    @DavidRicherby's right. You might just about get away with the c spelling, but it's not worth the risk.
    – Chris H
    Jun 28, 2017 at 9:31

A more formal term would be default, as in:

That deadbeat, he borrowed $1000 from someone last year and promised to repay it this year, but now he has defaulted, denying the loan he owes and trying to get away with it.


...he defaulted on the loan...

The relevant definition:




  1. Fail to fulfil an obligation, especially to repay a loan or to appear in a law court.
    ‘the dealer could repossess the goods if the customer defaulted’
    ‘some had defaulted on student loans’
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    This was my first thought too, and it's good to describe failing to pay in general, but the OP is looking for something to specifically describe someone who can pay but won't. Defaulting on a loan usually occurs because people are unable, but not unwilling, to meet their obligations. Jun 27, 2017 at 20:02
  • @Nuclear Wang thanks, i think you speak out the words that i want to say with natural English, i shall update my question. and to this answer, never mind, i welcome and appreciate all kind of answer and comment regarding my question.
    – user239460
    Jun 27, 2017 at 20:16
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    Default doesn't indicate clear intent of non payment or 'reneging' Jun 28, 2017 at 6:49
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    @NuclearWang I do not agree that saying someone defaulted on a loan, implies that they couldn't afford it. I do agree that it doesn't imply that they could afford it, though, either. I've heard the term "strategic default" for deliberately not paying, but it's not common.
    – stannius
    Jun 28, 2017 at 14:48

I'd go with shirk. I.e. he shirked his responsibility to pay his dues.


  1. Avoid or neglect (a duty or responsibility) ‘I do not shirk any responsibility in this matter’

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