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an oral or written description of particular events or situations; narrative:
an account of the meetings; an account of the trip.
an explanatory statement of conduct, as to a superior.
a statement of reasons, causes, etc., explaining some event.
reason; basis:
On this account I’m refusing your offer.
importance; worth; value; consequence:
things of no account.
estimation; judgment:
In his account it was an excellent piece of work.
an amount of money deposited with a bank, as in a checking or savings account:
My account is now with Third National.
Also called charge account. an accommodation or service extended by a business to a customer or client permitting the charging of goods or services, the returning for credit of unsatisfactory merchandise, etc.:
Do you have an account at this store? My account with the restaurant is past due.
a statement of financial transactions.

a formal record of the debits and credits relating to the person, business, etc., named at the head of the ledger account.
a balance of a specified period’s receipts and expenditures.


a business relation in which credit is used.
any customer or client, especially one carried on a regular credit basis.
Also called advertising account. the business assigned to an advertising agency by a client:
The toothpaste account was awarded to a new agency last year.

to give an explanation (usually followed by for):
to account for the accident.
to answer concerning one’s conduct, duties, etc. (usually followed by for):
to account for the missing typewriters.
to provide a report on money received, kept, and spent.
to cause (usually followed by for):
The humidity accounts for our discomfort. His reckless driving accounted for the accident.
to regard; consider as:
I account myself well paid.
to assign or impute (usually followed by to):
the many virtues accounted to him.
call to account,

to hold accountable; blame; reprimand:
Call them to account for having endangered their lives.
ask for an explanation of.

give a good / bad account of, to do something or conduct oneself in a good (bad, etc.) manner:
She gave a good account of herself in the tennis tournament.
hold to account, to hold responsible; hold accountable or culpable:
If any of the silver is missing, I’m going to hold you to account.
on account, as an installment or a partial payment:
I can’t pay the balance, but here’s $10 on account.
on account of,

by reason of; because of.
for the sake of:
She saw it through on account of me.

on all accounts, in any case; under any circumstances.
Also, at all accounts.
on no account, under no circumstances; absolutely not:
On no account should you buy that painting without having it appraised.
take account of,

to make allowance for; consider:
One must take account of the difficult circumstances. Taking account of the high overhead, the price is not excessive.
to notice or observe.

Also, take into account.
turn to account, to derive profit or use from; turn to advantage:
She has turned her misfortunes to account.
Contemporary Examples

Even Vladimir Putin, the president, said “obviously they are not pirates” but he insisted that they must be held to account.
Kieron Bryan: British Journalist Held Without Trial in Russia Nico Hines September 26, 2013

Earlier this week, news broke that Lululemon was recalling its Luon pant on account of ‘sheerness’.
Lululemon Reports Fourth Quarter Profit Increases Despite Sheer Luon Pant Scandal Misty White Sidell March 20, 2013

She has a Twitter account with a few dozen followers and no tweets in more than four years.
The ‘Mommy Blogger Murderess’ Lie Andy Hinds June 18, 2014

(Ynet) Arabs account for just 8% of Israel’s economy – Despite accounting for 20% of the overall population.
The “Prisoner X” Saga Deepens Orly Halpern March 24, 2013

Depending on the account, Whitey heard of criminal charges being brought against him in either December 1994 or January 1995.
Why Boston Needed Bulger Paul Kix June 23, 2011

Historical Examples

Yes, I had it in the blood, on account of my grandfather, I suppose.
The Downfall Emile Zola

Could not take another set of lunars on account of the cloudy weather.
Explorations in Australia John Forrest

She thought there was some danger on account of the dollars.
Within the Tides Joseph Conrad

This account was soon settled, and Robert left the factory his own master.
Brave and Bold Horatio Alger

It is difficult to account for the object of this strange proceeding.
The Western World W.H.G. Kingston

a verbal or written report, description, or narration of some occurrence, event, etc
an explanation of conduct, esp one made to someone in authority
ground; basis; consideration (often in the phrases on this (that, every, no, etc) account, on account of)
importance, consequence, or value: of little account
assessment; judgment
profit or advantage: to turn an idea to account
part or behalf (only in the phrase on one’s or someone’s account)

a business relationship between a bank, department store, stockbroker, etc, and a depositor, customer, or client permitting the latter certain banking or credit services
the sum of money deposited at a bank
the amount of credit available to the holder of an account
a record of these

a statement of monetary transactions with the resulting balance
(on the London Stock Exchange) the period, ordinarily of a fortnight’s duration, in which transactions formerly took place and at the end of which settlements were made
(accounting) a chronological list of debits and credits relating to a specified asset, liability, expense, or income of a business and forming part of the ledger

a regular client or customer, esp a firm that purchases commodities on credit
an area of business assigned to another: they transferred their publicity account to a new agent

call to account, bring to account

to insist on explanation
to rebuke; reprimand
to hold responsible

give a bad account of oneself, to perform badly: he gave a bad account of himself in the examination
give a good account of oneself, to perform well
on account

on credit
Also to account. as partial payment

(preposition) on account of, because of; by reason of
take account of, take into account, to take into consideration; allow for
settle accounts with, square accounts with

to pay or receive a balance due
to get revenge on (someone)

See bank account, credit account
(transitive) to consider or reckon: he accounts himself poor

c.1300, “reckoning of money received and paid,” from Old French acont “account, reckoning, terminal payment,” from a “to” (see ad-) + cont “counting, reckoning of money to be paid,” from Late Latin computus “a calculation,” from Latin computare “calculate” (see compute).

Meaning “sum of (one’s) money in a bank” is from 1833. Sense of “narration” is first attested 1610s. Plural accounts used as a collective or singular in phrases such as to give accounts (of something), is from mid-13c. Phrase by all accounts is attested from 1798.

c.1300, “to count, enumerate,” from Old French aconter “to count, render account” (Modern French conter), from a “to” (see ad-) + conter “to count, tell” (see count (v.)). Meaning “to reckon for money given or received, render a reckoning,” is from late 14c.; sense of “to explain” (c.1710) is from notion of “answer for money held in trust.” Transferred sense of “value” is from late 14c. Related: Accounted; accounting.

Related Terms

In addition to the idiom beginning with
also see:

all present and accounted for
by all accounts
call to account
give a good account
no accounting for tastes
on account of
on no account
on one’s own account
take account of
take into account
turn to good account


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