"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.