Article Title

Where's the R in debit?

Publication Date



The common abbreviation for the accounting term debit is a puzzling one: Dr. Today, particularly with our depersonalized treatment of the accounting or bookkeeping debit, there is no obvious clue as to why there is an r in debit at all. An investigation of the history and evolution of the debit in bookkeeping reveals the reason for the abbreviation: a reason almost totally lost without historical perspective. Whereas the accounting debit is now viewed as a technical term, devoid of any value considerations, referring simply to the left side of a journal entry or ledger account, this was not always the case. Originally, debits did have a bad side. They were used to record the debts of the merchant or businessman. Debits were debtors. And the abbreviation for debtor is Dr.



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