Does deficit have an adjectival form? If my business loses a lot of money, can I say that I 'got a deficit', that my business is 'in a deficit', or that my business suffered 'a deficit'?

Is there a common way to express the concept of deficit adjectivally?

  • 6
    The adjectival form for deficit is deficient, but it doesn't mean what you want it to. – Peter Shor Jul 20 '12 at 2:05
  • The word deficit comes from the French déficit but unfortunately only the noun was imported. In French it would be déficitaire. – Stéphane Gimenez Jul 20 '12 at 17:03

If by deficit you mean your expenses are greater than your income (or your liabilities are growing faster than your assets), I would say your business is loss-making, unprofitable, or profitless (among adjectives).

If it continues to lose money, it will be ultimately be unsuccessful, because the success of a business is measured by its profits.

I do not believe deficit, at least in the financial sense, has a common adjective form. In speaking of government spending deficits, for example, we usually hear compounds such as deficit-related or deficit-oriented.

  • In my opinion "unprofitable" means not earn money, but not lose money either. So i want to use "deficit" to express the situation – Samuel Jul 20 '12 at 4:43

As Peter Shor comments, the standard adjectival form for deficit is deficient. But OP may be thinking of...

My business is in deficit. (no 'a')

...which a quick check on Google Books reveals to be less common than I'd expected. Lots of other things can be in deficit, but apparently they're mostly budgets, accounts, and balances.

I have no problem with "My business is in deficit" meaning "My business is losing/has lost money", "...is trading in the red", "...is running at a loss", etc. Luckily, I'm not a businessman!


I believe deficient may well be the correct term. When a business is in deficit (without further explanation), that specifically refers to profits. If I am in deficit, my profits are deficient.

protected by RegDwigнt Jan 15 '13 at 14:55

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