USA Payables, Receivables, Semantics


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Hello,

I have studied accounting for a while, and there is something that I have trouble wrapping my head around. Although I know how to use the ideas of "payable" and "receivable", I have trouble getting the semantics of the world. I don't really know how to explain my problem easily, so I will say that each word has the part "-able" in it, which suggests in my mind that there is potential for the preceding stem to be realized. That is, payable is something that "CAN POSSIBLY" be paid, and receivable is something that "CAN POSSIBLY" be received. But maybe if i feel like it, I wont pay, or maybe the person who owes me wont receive, and it is all without consequence. I realize that this is not true in practice, but does anybody know the history of the origin of these terms, or can explain on a larger linguistic context just how these are developed from the usage into the forms "-able"?

To clarify the kind of response I am looking for, here is a piece from the wikipedia article on the origins of Debit and Credit:

"One theory is that in its original Latin, Pacioli's Summa used the Latin words debere (to owe) and credere (to entrust) to describe the two sides of a closed accounting transaction. When his work was translated, the Latin words debere and credere became the English debit and credit. Under this theory, the abbreviations Dr (for debit) and Cr (for credit) derive from the original Latin.[5] However, Sherman[6] casts doubt on this idea because Pacioli does not use debere nor Dr nor any word of similar root in his journal entries. In fact Pacioli uses Per (Latin for "from") for the left side of the sentence and A (Latin for "to") to begin the right side. Sherman goes on to say that the earliest text he found that actually uses "Dr." as an abbreviation in this context was an English text, the third edition (1633) of Ralph Handson's book Analysis or Resolution of Merchant Accompts[7] and that Handson uses Dr. as an abbreviation for the English word "debtor." (Sherman could not locate a first edition, but speculates that it too used Dr. for debtor.)

Jackson[8] notes that "debtor" need not be a person, but can be an abstract operator (cf. "divisor" in math) "...it became the practice to extend the meanings of the terms ... beyond their original personal connotation and apply them to inanimate objects and abstract conceptions..."."

You can see this is an attempt by wikipedia to explain where the words "debit" and "credit" come from because all they really mean today is "left side" and "right side". I am looking for somebody to take a similar kind of approach to the explanation of the source of "payables and receivables"



Thank you
 
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Triest123

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Payable means that the money you should pay (at this moment) but not yet pay (i.e. shall be paid in the near future).

Receivable means that the money you should receive (at this moment) but not yet receive (i.e. shall be received in the near future).
 
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Not all payables get paid. So to me it feels like it means things that have gotten far enough through and approvals process that we are able now to pay it, i.e. it is pay-able. My house is livable. My mother in law is tolerable. All of these things are things that can be 'stem'ed in your lingo.
 

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