An account can be many things — such as a story, like if you give a friend an account of what happened at the party she missed. It can also be a business arrangement, like a bank account or an email account.

Account is one of those seemingly simple words that have a mass of different meanings. An account can be a narrative or story — a biography, for example, is an account of someone's life. Account can also mean an explanation of something, as in the phrase, "How do you account for that?" An account is also a handy arrangement whereby a store agrees to provide you goods on credit, but then you might have to account for all that debt.

Primary Meanings of account

a record or narrative description of past events
give an account or representation of in words
a formal contractual relationship established to provide for regular banking or brokerage or business services
keep an account of
Full Definitions of account

n a record or narrative description of past events

“he gave an inaccurate account of the plot to kill the president”
chronicle, history, story
Parallel Lives
a collection of biographies of famous pairs of Greeks and Romans written by Plutarch; used by Shakespeare in writing some of his plays
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ancient history
a history of the ancient world
a history of a word
case history
detailed record of the background of a person or group under study or treatment
historical document, historical paper, historical record
writing having historical value (as opposed to fiction or myth etc.)
annals, chronological record
a chronological account of events in successive years
biography, life, life history, life story
an account of the series of events making up a person's life
a detailed account or description of something
folk etymology
a popular but erroneous etymology
family history
part of a patient's medical history in which questions are asked in an attempt to find out whether the patient has hereditary tendencies toward particular diseases
anamnesis, medical history, medical record
the case history of a medical patient as recalled by the patient
a biography of yourself
a biography that idealizes or idolizes the person (especially a person who is a saint)
biographical sketch
Type of:
anything (such as a document or a phonograph record or a photograph) providing permanent evidence of or information about past events

n a short account of the news

“the account of his speech that was given on the evening news made the governor furious”
news report, report, story, write up
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newsletter, newssheet
report or open letter giving informal or confidential news of interest to a special group
a brief report (especially an official statement issued for immediate publication or broadcast)
communique, despatch, dispatch
an official report (usually sent in haste)
urban legend
a story that appears mysteriously and spreads spontaneously in various forms and is usually false; contains elements of humor or horror and is popularly believed to be true
exclusive, scoop
a news report that is reported first by one news organization
market letter
a newsletter written by an analyst of the stock market and sold to subscribers
flash, news bulletin, newsbreak, newsflash
a short news announcement concerning some on-going news story
information bulletin
a bulletin containing the latest information
Type of:
information reported in a newspaper or news magazine

n the act of informing by verbal report

“by all accounts they were a happy couple”
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summarisation, summarization
the act of preparing a summary (or an instance thereof); stating briefly and succinctly
indirect discourse
a report of a discourse in which deictic terms are modified appropriately (e.g., "he said `I am a fool' would be modified to `he said he is a fool'")
direct discourse, direct quotation
a report of the exact words used in a discourse (e.g., "he said `I am a fool'")
(Yiddish) a long boring tediously detailed account
report of a mission or task
short account of an incident (especially a biographical one)
narration, recital, yarn
the act of giving an account describing incidents or a course of events
comment, gossip, scuttlebutt
a report (often malicious) about the behavior of other people
recounting, relation, telling
an act of narration
an outpouring of gossip
hearsay, rumor, rumour
gossip (usually a mixture of truth and untruth) passed around by word of mouth
grapevine, pipeline, word of mouth
gossip spread by spoken communication
dirt, malicious gossip, scandal
disgraceful gossip about the private lives of other people
talk, talk of the town
idle gossip or rumor
Type of:
informing, making known
a speech act that conveys information

n a statement that makes something comprehensible by describing the relevant structure or operation or circumstances etc.

“I expected a brief account
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an explanation that omits superfluous details and reduces complexity
a convincing explanation that reveals basic causes
an explanation of the cause of some phenomenon
a statement in explanation of some action or belief
an account that sets forth the meaning or intent of a writing or discourse
a detailed explanation of the meaning of something
gloss, rubric
an explanation or definition of an obscure word in a text
derivation, deriving, etymologizing
(historical linguistics) an explanation of the historical origins of a word or phrase
a concise explanation of the meaning of a word or phrase or symbol
an explanation that results from interpreting something
a thorough explanation (usually accompanied by a demonstration) of each step in a procedure or process
oversimplification, simplism
a simplification that goes too far (to the point of misrepresentation)
cause, grounds, reason
a justification for something existing or happening
defence, defense, vindication
the justification for some act or belief
exposition, expounding
a systematic interpretation or explanation (usually written) of a specific topic
an interpretation of the meaning of something; the act of construing
contextual definition
a definition in which the term is used by embedding it in a larger expression containing its explanation
dictionary definition
a definition that reports the standard uses of a word or phrase or symbol
explicit definition
a definition that gives an exact equivalent of the term defined
ostensive definition
a definition that points out or exhibits instances of the term defined
recursive definition
(mathematics) a definition of a function from which values of the function can be calculated in a finite number of steps
the act of giving a new definition
stipulative definition
a definition that is stipulated by someone and that is not a standard usage
clarification, elucidation, illumination
an interpretation that removes obstacles to understanding
personal interpretation of a text (especially of the Bible) using your own ideas
an explanation or critical interpretation (especially of the Bible)
the endeavor of a Moslem scholar to derive a rule of divine law from the Koran and Hadith without relying on the views of other scholars; by the end of the 10th century theologians decided that debate on such matters would be closed and Muslim theology and law were frozen
literal interpretation
an interpretation based on the exact wording
an interpretation of a matter from a particular viewpoint
a particular interpretation or performance
construction, twist
an interpretation of a text or action
an interpretation formed by piecing together bits of evidence
popularisation, popularization
an interpretation that easily understandable and acceptable
misinterpretation, mistaking, misunderstanding
putting the wrong interpretation on
Type of:
a message that is stated or declared; a communication (oral or written) setting forth particulars or facts etc

v give an account or representation of in words

describe, report
Type of:
impart knowledge of some fact, state or affairs, or event to

v be the sole or primary factor in the existence, acquisition, supply, or disposal of something

“Passing grades account for half of the grades given in this exam”
Type of:
have the quality of being; (copula, used with an adjective or a predicate noun)

v furnish a justifying analysis or explanation

“I can't account for the missing money”
answer for
Type of:
state emphatically and authoritatively

n a formal contractual relationship established to provide for regular banking or brokerage or business services

“he asked to see the executive who handled his account
business relationship
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brokerage account
a fund that a customer has entrusted to a securities brokerage
bank account
a fund that a customer has entrusted to a bank and from which the customer can make withdrawals
short account
a brokerage account of someone who sells short (sells securities he does not own)
cash account
an account with a securities brokerage whose transactions are settled on a cash basis
margin account
an account with a securities brokerage in which the broker extends credit
giro account
an account at a post office that can be used in similar ways to an account at a bank
checking account, chequing account, current account
a bank account against which the depositor can draw checks that are payable on demand
savings account
a bank account that accumulates interest
Type of:
a state involving mutual dealings between people or parties or countries

n a statement of recent transactions and the resulting balance

“they send me an accounting every month”
account statement, accounting
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capital account
(finance) an account of the net value of a business at a specified date
capital account
(economics) that part of the balance of payments recording a nation's outflow and inflow of financial securities
profit and loss, profit and loss account
an account compiled at the end of an accounting period to show gross and net profit or loss
suspense account
an account used temporarily to carry doubtful receipts and disbursements or discrepancies pending their analysis and permanent classification
expense account, travel and entertainment account
an account to which salespersons or executives can charge travel and entertainment expenses
Type of:
financial statement, statement
a document showing credits and debits

n an itemized statement of money owed for goods or services

“send me an account of what I owe”
bill, invoice
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electric bill
a bill for money owed for electricity used
hotel bill
statement of charges for staying in a hotel
doctor's bill, medical bill
statement of charges for medical services
phone bill, telephone bill
statement of charges for telephone service
reckoning, tally
a bill for an amount due
tax bill
money owed for taxes
check, chit, tab
the bill in a restaurant
Type of:
financial statement, statement
a document showing credits and debits

v keep an account of

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accounting: enter as credit
compute credits and debits of an account
cause to be off balance
enter as debit
calculate principal and interest
bill, charge
demand payment
sell or provide on credit
impose, levy
impose and collect
exact a tithe from
charge (a person or a property) with a payment, such as a tax or a fine
charge (someone) too little money
charge an extra fee, as for a special service
send an bill to
enter a certain amount as a charge

n grounds

“don't do it on my account
“the paper was rejected on account of its length”
Type of:
ground, reason
a rational motive for a belief or action

n importance or value

“a person of considerable account
“he predicted that although it is of small account now it will rapidly increase in importance”
Type of:
the quality of being important and worthy of note

n the quality of taking advantage

“she turned her writing skills to good account
Type of:
gain, profit
the advantageous quality of being beneficial

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