Late 15th century, from Medieval Latin dēfalcātiōnem, accusative singular of dēfalcātiō (literally “cutting off, lopping off with a sickle”), nominalization of dēfalcō, from Latin dē (“off”) + falx (“sickle, scythe, pruning hook”), from which also English falcate (“sickle-shaped”).
- (law) The act of cancelling part of a claim by deducting a smaller claim which the claimant owes to the defendant.
1931, Francis Beeding, “10/6”, in Death Walks in Eastrepps:
- “Why should Eldridge commit murder? […] There was only one possible motive—namely, he wished to avoid detection as James Selby of Anaconda Ltd. He had settled down in Estrepps. There were several persons in the town who had suffered from his defalcations. […] ”