Illustration: Nick Shepherd

Where does the word 'auditing' come from?

WORDS-WORTH: When did financial records start being audited?

by John Morrish
Last Updated: 29 Oct 2015

Seemingly everything is audited now: books and financial records, of course, but also quality, energy and skills. To be audited is to be systematically examined, supposedly by an independent authority. The word 'audit' relates to 'audio', 'audition', and 'auditory', and literally means 'a hearing'. First recorded in English in the 1430s, in the records of the Worshipful Company of Grocers, it reflects the fact that giving an account of one's financial affairs once meant standing up and answering difficult questions about them. As, on occasion, it does now.


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