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From Middle English income, perhaps continuing (in altered form) Old English incyme (an in-coming, entrance), equivalent to in- +‎ come. Cognate with Dutch inkomen (income, earnings, gainings), German Einkommen (income, earnings, competence), Icelandic innkváma (income), Danish indkomst (income), Swedish inkomst (income).


  • IPA(key): /ˈɪnˌkʌm/
  • (file)


income (countable and uncountable, plural incomes)

  1. Money one earns by working or by capitalising on the work of others.
    • 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter XXIII, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
      The struggle with ways and means had recommenced, more difficult now a hundredfold than it had been before, because of their increasing needs. Their income disappeared as a little rivulet that is swallowed by the thirsty ground.
    • 2010 December 4, Evan Thomas, “Why It’s Time to Worry”, in Newsweek, retrieved 16 June 2013:
      In 1970 the richest 1 percent made 9 percent of the nation’s income; now that top slice makes closer to 25 percent.
    • 2013 June 7, Joseph Stiglitz, “Globalisation is about taxes too”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 188, number 26, page 19:
      It is the starving of the public sector which has been pivotal in America no longer being the land of opportunity – with a child's life prospects more dependent on the income and education of its parents than in other advanced countries.
  2. (business, commerce) Money coming in to a fund, account, or policy.
  3. (obsolete) A coming in; arrival; entrance; introduction.
    • 1667, George Rust, A Funeral Sermon, preached at the obsequies of [] Jeremy Lord Bishop of Down:
      more abundant incomes of light and strength from God
    • 1594, William Shakespeare, Lucrece (First Quarto), London: [] Richard Field, for Iohn Harrison, [], →OCLC:
      Pain payes the income of ech precious thing,
  4. (archaic or dialectal, Scotland) A newcomer or arrival; an incomer.
  5. (obsolete) An entrance-fee.
  6. (archaic) A coming in as by influx or inspiration, hence, an inspired quality or characteristic, as courage or zeal; an inflowing principle.
  7. (UK dialectal, Scotland) A disease or ailment without known or apparent cause, as distinguished from one induced by accident or contagion; an oncome.
  8. That which is taken into the body as food; the ingesta; sometimes restricted to the nutritive, or digestible, portion of the food.


Derived termsEdit