1530s, in sense “to lop off”, from Medieval Latin dēfalcātus, perfect passive participle of dēfalcō (“cut or lop off”), from Latin dē (“off”) + falx (“sickle, scythe, pruning hook”), from which also English falcate (“sickle-shaped”).
- (intransitive) To misappropriate funds; to embezzle.
- (transitive, obsolete)
- To cut off (a part of something).
- To deduct or take away (a part of income, money, rents, etc.).
- 1769, [Edmund Burke], Observations on a Late State of the Nation, London: […] J[ames] Dodsley, […], →OCLC, page 42:
- One would have thought the natural method in a plan of reformation vvould be, to take the preſent exiſting eſtimates as they ſtand; and then to ſhevv vvhat may be practicably and ſafely defalcated from them.
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