Etymology
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insolvent (adj.)
1590s, "unable to pay one's debts," from in- (1) "not" + Latin solventem "paying" (see solvent). Originally of one who was not a trader; only traders could become bankrupt.
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insolvency (n.)
1660s, from insolvent (q.v.) + abstract noun suffix -cy. Insolvence (1793) is rare.
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bankrupt (v.)
"make insolvent," 1550s, from bankrupt (adj.). Related: Bankrupted; bankrupting.
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behindhand (adv., adj.)
"in the rear, in a backward state," especially "insolvent, unable to pay," 1520s, from prepositional phrase; see behind, probably on model of beforehand (q.v.).
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broke (adj.)
from obsolete past participle of break (v.); extension to "insolvent" is first recorded 1716 (broken in this sense is attested from 1590s). Old English cognate broc meant, in addition to "that which breaks," "affliction, misery."
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bankrupt (adj.)
"in the state of one unable to pay just debts or meet obligations," 1560s, from Italian banca rotta, literally "a broken bench," from banca "moneylender's shop," literally "bench" (see bank (n.1)) + rotta "broken, defeated, interrupted" from (and in English remodeled on) Latin rupta, fem. past participle of rumpere "to break" (see rupture (n.)). Said to have been so called from an old custom of breaking the bench of bankrupts, but the allusion probably is figurative. Figurative (non-financial) sense in English is from 1580s. As a noun, "insolvent person," from 1530s.
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