1. A useful or valuable quality, person, or thing; an advantage or resource: proved herself an asset to the company.
2. A valuable item that is owned.
3. A spy working in their own country and controlled by a foreign power or an enemy.
a. Accounting The entries on a balance sheet showing all properties, both tangible and intangible, and claims against others that may be applied to cover the liabilities of a person or business. Assets can include cash, stock, inventories, property rights, and goodwill.
b. The entire property owned by a person, especially a bankrupt, that can be used to settle debts.
[Back-formation from English assets, sufficient goods to settle a testator's debts and legacies, from Anglo-Norman asetz, from asez, enough, from Vulgar Latin *ad satis, to sufficiency : Latin ad, to; see AD- + Latin satis, enough; see sā- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.