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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 Saterland Frisian Íenkúumen (income), West Frisian ynkommen (income), Dutch inkomen, inkomst (income, earnings, gainings), German Low German Inkumst (income), German Einkommen, Einkunft (income, earnings, competence), Danish indkomst (income), Swedish inkomst (income), Icelandic innkváma (income).


  • IPA(key): /ˈɪnˌkʌm/
  • Audio (US):(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.


  • (antonym(s) of money coming in): outgo

Derived terms