AskDefine | Define accrue

Dictionary Definition



1 grow by addition; "The interest accrues"
2 come into the possession of; "The house accrued to the oldest son" [syn: fall]

User Contributed Dictionary



French accrû, Old French acreü, past participle of accroitre, Old French acroistre to increase; Latin ad + crescere to increase. Compare accretion, Accresce, Accrete, Crew. See Crescent



  1. To increase, to augment; to come to by way of increase; to arise or spring as a growth or result; to be added as increase, profit, or damage, especially as the produce of money lent.
    • And though power failed, her courage did accrue - Spenser
    • Interest accrues to principal - Abbott
    • The great and essential advantages accruing to society from the freedom of the press - Junius
  2. To be incurred as a result of the passage of time.
    The monthly financial statements show all the actual but only some of the accrued expenses.



  1. Something that accrues; advantage accruing

Extensive Definition

Accrual is derived from the verb accrue, which describes the gathering or clustering of things together over time, as atoms, or it describes a general increase in number, as in interest. It also holds specific meanings in the contexts of accounting and payroll.

Accruals in accounting

As applied to accounting, accrual describes the concept (known as accrual accounting) where a revenue or expense is not recorded (recognized) at the same moment in time as the related cash inflow / outflow.
For example, on December 30, 2001, a company delivers a product to a customer who will pay for that product 30 days later. Assuming the fiscal year ends on December 31, the company discloses that revenue in 2001 Income Statement even though it will get paid during the following fiscal year.
Similarly, the sales representative that sold the product is entitled to his or her commission at the moment of sale (or delivery). That means the company will record an expense (Salesperson’s Salaries and Commissions) in its 2001 Income Statement, even though the rep will actually get paid at the end of the following week, in January, 2002.
Unfortunately, the term accrual is also often used as an abbreviation for the terms accrued expense or accrued revenue, items which may share a common name but have a different economic / accounting characteristic.
Accrued revenue is a receivable for other revenue. It is disclosed separately on the balance sheet primarily to allow investors to differentiate receivables from core operations from receivables from peripheral operations. An accrued expense, on the other hand, is a liability with an uncertain timing or amount but where the uncertainly is not significant enough to qualify it as a provision.
In the United States of America, this difference is best summarized by IAS 37 which states:
"11 Provisions can be distinguished from other liabilities such as trade payables and accruals because there is uncertainty about the timing or amount of the future expenditure required in settlement. By contrast:
"(a) trade payables are liabilities to pay for goods or services that have been received or supplied and have been invoiced or formally agreed with the supplier; and
"(b) accruals are liabilities to pay for goods or services that have been received or supplied but have not been paid, invoiced or formally agreed with the supplier, including amounts due to employees (for example, amounts relating to accrued vacation pay). Although it is sometimes necessary to estimate the amount or timing of accruals, the uncertainty is generally much less than for provisions.
"Accruals are often reported as part of trade and other payables, whereas provisions are reported separately."
To add to the confusion, some legalistic accounting systems take a simplistic view of “’accrued revenue”’ and “’accrued expenses”’, defining each as revenue / expense that has not been formally invoiced. This is primarily due to tax considerations, since the act of issuing an invoice creates, in some countries, taxable revenue, even if the customer does not ultimately pay and the related receivable becomes uncollectible.

Accruals in payroll

In payroll, a common benefit that an employer will provide for employees is a vacation or sick accrual. This means that as time passes, an employee accumulates additional sick or vacation time and this time is placed into a bank. Once the time is accumulated, the employer or the employer's payroll provider will track the amount of time used for sick or vacation.

Length of Service

For most employers, a time-off policy is published and followed with regard to benefit accruals. These guidelines ensure that all employees are treated fairly with regard to the distribution and use of sick and vacation time.
Within these guidelines, the rate at which the employee will accumulate the vacation or sick time is often determined by length of service (the amount of time the employee has worked for the employers).

Trial Period

In many cases, these guidelines indicate there is a trial period (usually 30 to 90 days) where no time is awarded to the employee. This does not prevent an employee from calling in sick immediately after being hired, but it does mean that they will not get paid for this time off. However it does prevent an employee for example, scheduling a vacation for the second week of work. After this trial period, the award of time may begin or it may be retrospective, back to the date of hire.

Rollover/Carry Over

Some accrual policies have the ability to carry over or roll over some or all unused time that has been accrued into the next year. If the accrual policy does not have any type of rollover, any accrued time that is in the bank is usually lost at the end of the employer's calendar year.

See also


External links

accrue in German: Rechnungsabgrenzung
accrue in Spanish: Devengado
accrue in Italian: Rateo
accrue in Hungarian: Aktív időbeli elhatárolás
accrue in Tamil: அட்டுறு (கணக்கீடு)
accrue in Chinese: 權責發生制原則

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

accrue from, accrue to, accumulate, advance, appreciate, arise from, balloon, be contingent on, be due to, be received, bloat, boom, breed, broaden, bud from, come from, come in, come out of, come to hand, crescendo, depend on, derive from, descend from, develop, emanate from, emerge from, ensue from, fall due, fall to one, flow from, follow from, gain, gain strength, germinate from, get ahead, go up, grow, grow from, grow out of, hang on, hinge on, increase, intensify, issue from, mature, mount, multiply, originate in, proceed from, proliferate, rise, run up, shoot up, snowball, spread, spring from, sprout from, stem from, strengthen, swell, turn on, wax, widen
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