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See also: Ledger



A 19th-century general ledger (sense 2) of the Hochstetter General Store[n 1]
A ledger (sense 4) on a tomb in the churchyard of St. Wulfram’s Church, Grantham, Lincolnshire, England, UK

From Middle English liggere, ligger, leger (large breviary; beam, plank; dweller, inhabitant), from liggen, leggen,[1] variants of līen (to lie down; to bow, kneel, prostrate; to die; to be located (somewhere); to remain in place, stay), from Old English liċġan (to lie down; to be situated),[2] ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *legʰ- (to lie down). The word is cognate with Dutch legger (daybook; layer) (from leggen (to lay), liggen (to lie down)),[3] and is related to English ledge, lie (to be prostrate).

The verb is derived from the noun.[4]



ledger (plural ledgers)

  1. A book for keeping notes; a record book, a register.
    • 1981, A. F. K. Organski, Jacek Kugler, The War Ledger, page 4:
      Our ledger has no entry for the human pain caused by war.
    • 2003, Paul Nigro, Bethesda, page 47:
      My eyes kept glancing nervously to a spot on the side table just beyond the ring of light, where the ledgers containing the old church minutes were stacked.
    • 2011, John Jughead Pierson, The Last Temptation of Clarence Odbody, page 3:
      Ever grateful for his perfect recall, the policeman carefully transcribed Mr. Welch's tedious rant word for word in his ledger.
    • 2012, Wendy Robertson, Honesty's Daughter: An unforgettable saga of rivalry and hope:
      A large part of Jacob's job was to take the notes and drawings that were scribbled in their notebooks out in the field and copy them into great ledgers in Rufus Benbow's library.
    • 2014, James Lovegrove, Gods of War:
      "A ten-bob note secured me quarter of an hour alone with the attendance ledger in a backroom." Holmes said, with a touch of chagrin.
  2. A book or other scheme for keeping accounting records.
    • 1675, Stephen Monteage, “How to Begin a New Leidger Dependant on the Ballance of the Old Leidger”, in Debtor and Creditor Made Easie: Or, A Short Instruction for the Attaining the Right Use of Accounts after the Best Method Used by Merchants. [], London: Printed by J. R. and are to be sold by Ben[jamin] Billingsley [], →OCLC:
      The firſt Leidger, or Leidger Nº A. being thus finiſh'd, it is requiſite to prepare for the erecting of thy Accounts anew in a Leidger Nº B. or thy ſecond Leidger, which thou ſhalt do thus.
    • 1721 April 21, “[Appendix. The Third Report of the Committee of Secrecy.]”, in A Collection of the Parliamentary Debates in England, from the Year M,DC,LXVIII. to the Present Time, volume VIII, [London]: [s.n.], published 1740, →OCLC, page 63:
      That all ſtock bought and ſold, is transferred or poſted from his journal, produced at his examination, into his ſaid leidgers, but the journal doth not contain all the matters concerning monies that are entered in his leidgers; []
    • 1778, “Method of Balancing Accounts at the Year’s End”, in Kearsley’s Gentleman and Tradesman’s Pocket Ledger, for the Year 1778: [...], London: Printed for G. Kearsley, [], →OCLC, page 184:
      You muſt make an accompt of balance on the next void leaf or folio of your ledger to your other accompts; but after ſo done, do not venture to draw out the accompt of balance in the ſaid folio, till you have made it exact on a ſheet of paper, ruled and titled for that purpoſe, becauſe of miſtakes or errors that may occur or happen in the courſe of ballancing your ledger; []
    • 1797 May, “Art. 22. A Letter upon the State of Parties; Being the First of a Series of Letters on the State of Public Affairs. 8vo. pp. 44. 1s. Owen. 1797. [book review]”, in The Monthly Review; or, Literary Journal, Enlarged: [...] With an Appendix., volume XXIII, London: Printed for Ralph Griffiths; and sold by T[homas] Becket, [], →OCLC, page 97:
      Commerce has done its perfect work; it has withdrawn our eyes from every general public care, from every generous manly thought, to our ledgers and our day-books—we are a nation of tills and counters, not of states and provinces!
    • 1837 December 20, Thomas P. Cope, Speech of Thomas P. Cope of Philadelphia, on Banks and Currency. [], [Philadelphia, Pa.]: Printed at No. 46 Carpenter Street, published 1838, →OCLC, page 9:
      [T]his city of "merchants, whose counting-houses are their churches, whose money is their God, and whose legers, (defaced legers, of course, the delegate from Indiana will understand me,) whose legers are their bibles."
    • 1843, George Leonard, Jr., “Book-keeping. [Book-keeping by Single Entry. Lesson 229.]”, in A Practical Treatise on Arithmetic, [], 12th stereotyped edition, Boston, Mass.: Otis, Broaders, and Company;  [], →OCLC, page 311:
      The original charges, however, are made in what is called a day book, where they are written one after another, in the order in which the transactions occur. During the hours of leisure, these charges are copied into another book, [] the account of each man being placed under his name. This book is called the leger. The act of copying from the day book into the leger is called posting.
    • 1850, Edward Wedlake Brayley, “The Hundred of Godley, or Chertsey”, in A Topographical History of Surrey, volume II, London: G. Willis, [], →OCLC, page 177:
      John de Rutherwyke was chosen abbot in 1307. In the Landsdowne Library is a Leiger-book of the abbey of Chertsey, containing a regular account of the affairs of the monastery under his presidency, from the time of his election till within two years of his death, which took place in 1346. In the Exchequer Leiger the abbot is styled "a most religious Father, and a most prudent and most profitable Lord;" []
    • 1919 August, “A Truly Knotty Problem: How Bookkeeping was Carried on by the Ancient Peruvians”, in Waldemar Kaempffert, editor, The Popular Science Monthly, volume 95, number 2, New York, N.Y.: Modern Publishing Company, [], →OCLC, page 48:
      A Peruvian bookkeeper's ledger was a regular rope curtain with knots running up and down the ropes. He took to knots because he had no system of writing by which to keep his accounts. Each rope represented an account; the bookkeeper had twenty-four rope accounts on one ledger—the ledger being a heavy rope from which all the accounts hung.
    • 2006, John Styles, Amanda Vickery, “Introduction”, in John Styles, Amanda Vickery, editors, Gender, Taste, and Material Culture in Britain and North America 1700–1830 (Studies in British Art; 17), New Haven, Conn.: Yale Center for British Art; Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, →ISBN, page 8:
      Of course, ledgers conceal as much as they reveal; they tell us who formally paid and represented the family, not necessarily who truly chose. [] [A] woman's decisions in the shop often lie concealed behind her husband's name in the ledger. Sometimes, as a late-eighteenth-century shop ledger from Penmorfa in North Wales reveals, they were concealed from the husband as well. The ledger includes repeated entries for purchases on men's credit by wives or maidservants that use phrases such as "handkerchief … wife, not to tell" or "hat 11s. 6d. to tell 8s." Evidently, the purchase or its real cost was not to be divulged to the man of the house.
    1. (cryptocurrencies) A distributed ledger, a public financial transaction database, typically using a blockchain.
      • 2020, Sir John Hargrave, Evan Karnoupakis, Blockchain Success Stories, O'Reilly Media, →ISBN, page 19:
        To be clear: there's only one ledger, but that ledger is not stored in any one central location. Rather, identical copies exist on every node—a copy on every computer.
  3. (accounting) A collection of accounting entries consisting of credits and debits.
    Coordinate term: journal
    • 1822, Nicolas Pike, Chester Dewey, “Book Keeping”, in A New and Complete System of Arithmetick. Composed for the Use of Citizens of the United States, 4th edition, Troy, N.Y.: Printed and published by W[illia]m S. Parker, [], →OCLC, page 490:
      The Leger exhibits at one view the accounts with an individual, as it contains on the Dr. [debit] side whatever he has received, and on the Cr. [credit] side whatever he has paid. [] Let each account be posted from the Day Book in its proper place in the Leger. If a mistake be made, let it be corrected by an account in the Day Book, clearly stating the correction, and then let this account be posted in its proper place in the Leger, that no blot or erasure may disfigure its pages.
    • 1825, William Hazlitt, “Mr. Brougham-Sir F. Burdett”, in The Spirit of the Age [] , London: Printed for Henry Colburn, [], →OCLC, pages 330–331:
      He keeps a ledger or a debtor-and-creditor account between the Government and the Country, posts so much actual crime, corruption, and injustice against so much contingent advantage or sluggish prejudice, and at the bottom of the page brings in the balance of indignation and contempt, where it is due.
  4. A large, flat stone, especially one laid over a tomb.
    • 2008, Richard F[rancis] Veit, Mark Nonesteid, “Early American Burial Grounds and Gravemarkers”, in New Jersey Cemeteries and Tombstones: History in the Landscape, New Brunswick, N.J., London: Rivergate Books, Rutgers University Press, →ISBN, page 26:
      In Great Britain ledgers that were placed outside of churches are sometimes termed external ledgers, while those placed within churches are called internal ledgers [] Ledgers generally sit directly on the ground or on low supports.
    • 2012, Daniel W[atkins] Patterson, “Seeing Scotch Irish Inscriptions”, in The True Image: Gravestone Art and the Culture of Scotch Irish Settlers in the Pennsylvania and Carolina Backcountry (The Richard Hampton Jenrette Series in Architecture and the Decorative Arts), [Chapel Hill, N.C.]: University of North Carolina Press, →ISBN, page 193, column 1:
      They [19th-century headstones] instead normally recorded only the names and birth and death dates of family members buried in a plot over a period of seventy-five years, a century, or even longer. Stones that William Bigham Sr. made in Pennsylvania, especially the ledger stones but even small headstones, often seem intended to provide space for a similar record.
  5. (construction) A board attached to a wall to provide support for attaching other structural elements (such as deck joists or roof rafters) to a building.
    Synonym: ligger
    • 1851, G[eorge] Drysdale Dempsey, “Section V. Timber, Woodwork, & Constructive Carpentry.”, in The Builder’s Guide: A Practical Manual for the Use of Builders, Clerks of Works, Professional Students, and Others, Engaged in Designing or Superintending the Construction of Buildings. [], London: Archley & Co., [], →OCLC, paragraph 80, page 111:
      [The dome was] turned upon a centre laid without any standard from below to support it. Every story of the scaffolding being circular, and the ends of the ledgers meeting as so many rings, and truly wrought, it supported itself; []
    • 2003, Julie Stillman, Jane Gitlin, “Decks”, in Deck & Patio Idea Book (Taunton Home), Stefanie Ramp edition, Newtown, Conn.: Taunton Press, →ISBN, page 32:
      For more secure rooftop decks, a ledger (a joist mounted against the side of the house to support one side of a deck) is attached to the face of the house with perpendicular sleepers (wood planks laid horizontally at wide intervals) aligned with the roof rafters below.
  6. (fishing) Short for ledger bait (fishing bait attached to a floating line fastened to the bank of a pond, stream, etc.) or ledger line (“fishing line used with ledger bait for bottom fishing; ligger”).
    • 1823, T[homas] F[rederick] Salter, “Directions How to Angle for and Take the Anguilla, or Eel”, in The Angler’s Guide, Being a New, Plain and Complete Practical Treatise on the Art of Angling for Sea, River, and Pond Fish; [], 5th corrected and enlarged edition, London: Printed by R. Carpenter and Son, [], and sold for the author; by T[homas] Tegg, [], →OCLC, 1st part (Bottom Fishing), page 121:
      [W]hen fishing for Eels with a ledger line as well as a floated line, don't be in too much haste to strike when you see a bite, for Eels generally gorge the bait, and consequently hook themselves, if you give them time, [] I always use two hooks on my ledger, placing the top one about two feet above the bottom, and to prevent it from moving from its proper place, fix a shot above it and below it, []
    • 1877, Francis Francis, “Introductory—Bottom Fishing”, in Angling, London: “The Field” Office, [], →OCLC, page 10:
      Stream fishing is, as I have said, subdivided into fishing with a travelling or tripping bait, with or without a float, and also with a stationary one, with or without float. The first of these latter is termed "tight corking," and the latter ledgering or ledger fishing. [] If the angler likes it better, a combination of ledger and float can be made, which is the acmè of tight corking and one of the most killing methods employed. It is simply to use a light ledger lead instead of fixed shots.

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ledger (third-person singular simple present ledgers, present participle ledgering, simple past and past participle ledgered)

  1. (transitive) To record (something) in, or as if in, a ledger.
    • [1862?], S[amuel] Cozens, “Dedication”, in A Christmas Box, or The Great Festival; [], London: Printed for the author by T. Matthews, [], →OCLC, page v:
      Our tears are bottled, to signify that our griefs are carefully measured; and they are booked, to teach us that they are numbered.—Psal[ms] lvi. 8. Our tears being bottled, and ledgered, will signify that our afflictions are not the effects of change, but the registered dispensations of heaven. Ay, and your enjoyments are by lot.
    • 1868 April, S[amuel] W. G[ross], “Art. XVII.—Pennsylvania Hospital Reports. Edited by J. M. DaCosta, M.D., and William Hunt, M.D. Vol. I. 8vo. pp. 420. Philadelphia. Lindsay & Blackiston, 1868.”, in Isaac Hays, editor, The American Journal of the Medical Sciences, volume LV, number CX (New Series), Philadelphia, Pa.: Henry C[harles] Lea, →OCLC, page 473:
      I never saw a man who knew so thoroughly well all that he [Philip Syng Physick] knew. It seemed as if his science and art were ledgered in his brain, so that he could turn on the instant to page and line.
    • 1883 November 17, A. H. L. Fraser, “[Letter from A. H. L. Fraser, Esquire, C.S., Offg. Secretary to the Chief Commissioner, Central Provinces, to the Director of Agriculture, Central Provinces.]”, in Department of Agriculture, C[entral] P[rovinces]: Report on the Trade and Resources of the Central Provinces for the Year 1882–83, Nagpur, Maharashtra, India: Printed at the Chief Commissioner’s Office Press, →OCLC, page 1:
      [T]he only thing that can cause delay is the calling for explanations at the end of the year, and this can be avoided if you ledger for each registering post or group the figures of each month as received, and in making progressive totals compare them each month with the totals of former years, which can be entered at the head of the ledger. The labour of ledgering is but small, and it enables you to keep your eye on the progress of trade all through the year, []
    • 2010 October, Asma Abbas, Liberalism and Human Suffering: Materialist Reflections on Politics, Ethics, and Aesthetics[1], New York, N.Y.: Palgrave Macmillan, →ISBN:
      [In the play Angels in America] [Tony] Kushner is less interested in objectifying or ledgering the specific sufferings AIDS causes than in how it collates and coalesces those aspects of our suffering that are general and ordinary.
    • 2012, “Islamic Beginnings: Revelation, State Building, and Culture”, in Marvin Gettleman, Stuart Schaar, editors, The Middle East and Islamic World Reader, revised and expanded edition, New York, N.Y.: Grove Press, →ISBN, section 1 (The Quran and Other Islamic Texts):
      They were not looking for their reckoning but totally rejected Our revelations. Everything We had ledgered in a book.
  2. (transitive, fishing) To use (a certain type of bait) in bottom fishing.
    • 1997, Paul Gustafson, “Rigs”, in How to Catch Bigger Pike from Rivers, Lochs and Lakes, London: Collins Willow, HarperCollins Publishers, →ISBN; republished as How to Catch Big Pike: All the Insight and Technique You Need to Catch Bigger Pike, whatever the Location, London: Robinson, an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group, 2016, →ISBN, page 160:
      The added advantage of legering a small bait rather than freelining one is that you can tighten up harder to the bait and so spot runs earlier.
    • 1998, Martin James, “Flounder”, in Paul Morgan, editor, Saltwater Flyfishing: Britain and Northern Europe, Machynlleth, Powys: Coch-y-Bonddu Books, published 2006, →ISBN, page 156:
      The flounder spends its life between the tideline and the 25 to 30 fathoms mark, but they are often caught several miles upstream in freshwater rivers by anglers legering worms or gentles.
  3. (intransitive, fishing) To engage in bottom fishing.
    • 1872, Francis Francis, “Bottom-fishing—Continued”, in A Book on Angling: Being a Complete Treatise on the Art of Angling in Every Branch: [], 3rd revised and improved edition, London: Longmans, Green, and Co., →OCLC, page 59:
      In the fashion pursued by the fishermen who require to cast a long line on the Thames, for ledgering or spinning more particularly, the line is drawn off the reel and laid loosely in coils at the fisherman's feet, []
    • 1877, Francis Francis, “The Gudgeon (Cyprinus Gobio)”, in Angling, London: “The Field” Office, [], →OCLC, page 35:
      The best baits for ledgering are, firstly, worms; secondly, greaves; and, thirdly, a bunch of gentles, though some people occasionally catch barbel with raw beef or ham; []
    • 1976, Simon Brett, chapter 13, in So Much Blood: A Crime Novel (Gollancz Thriller), London: Gollancz, →ISBN; republished as So Much Blood (A Charles Paris Mystery; 2), [Sutton, Surrey]: Severn House Publishers, 2011, →ISBN:
      [T]he salmon were playing hard to get. So were the trout. So, come to that, were any fresh water shrimps that might be around. Obviously the recommended bunch of worms on a large hook ledgered to the bottom was an insufficient inducement.

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  1. ^ From the collection of the Museum der Alltagskultur (Museum of Everyday Culture) in Waldenbuch, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.


  1. ^ liǧǧer, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 9 November 2018.
  2. ^ līen, v.(1)”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 9 November 2018.
  3. ^ ledger, n. and adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1902.
  4. ^ ledger, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1902.

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