What does the idiom "on account of" mean?

The expression on account of is one of the idioms that often finds a place in our literature and enriches our language. However, its meaning is not fully understood, so it is sometimes used in the wrong situations. Please review the explanation carefully for the correct use of the on account of idiom.

Meaning of "on account of"


The idiom 'on account of' is primarily used to express the reason for or cause of something. It is typically used when explaining why or how something has come about. It is not interchangeable with ‘because of’, as the latter is used to refer specifically to a cause, whereas the former can refer to either a cause or a consequence.


The phrase 'on account of' has been used in the English language since at least the late 16th century. It is believed to have originated as an alteration of the longer phrase ‘on account of the’ meaning ‘due to the’, which is still in use today. The phrase was likely shortened over time to its current form, as it was easier and quicker to say.


'On account of' is frequently used in both written and spoken English. It is typically used to describe the initial cause of something, rather than the result of the action, and as such it is most often deployed as a prepositional phrase. It is also often used to explain why something has not or will not happen, for example: ‘I cancelled my trip on account of the bad weather’. In this case, the phrase is used to explain why the action of cancelling has occurred.

Example Sentences

  • I was late for the meeting on account of the traffic.
  • The concert was cancelled on account of the pandemic.
  • She failed the test on account of her lack of preparation.

The meanings of the words in the "on account of" idiom

Idioms with similar meanings in different languages

"Barking up the wrong tree" is an English idiom that means to pursue a mistaken or misguided course of action. In German, the similar idiom is "Auf dem Holzweg sein," which translates to "To be on the wrong track." This idiom emphasizes the idea that when you are pursuing the wrong course of action, you are not going to achieve your desired outcome.


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