Define: War Chest

UK Accounting Glossary

Definition: War Chest

What is the dictionary definition of War Chest?

Dictionary Definition

In business, a war chest is a stash of money set aside to deal with unexpected changes in the business environment. The term originates with the medieval practice of having a chest, literally, filled with money to open in time of war.

Companies rarely have a war chest anymore, relying instead on quickly raised debt which costs nothing to carry when you don’t need it. This is not always a reasonable substitute, as the debt available to a company typically drops as a result of the same actions that require the war chest to be opened.


Full Definition of War Chest

A war chest contains funds that are set aside and used to deal with unexpected changes in an environment. The war chest may be used to fund a war, a political campaign or a business. Typically, “war chest” is used to refer to the latter. A corporation may set aside cash (the war chest) in anticipation of events such as an acquisition, hostile takeover or market consolidation. The money in the war chest has been earmarked for such occasions. “War chest” is a slang term that originated from the medieval practice of literally filling a chest with money, only to open in it a time of war. The reserve of cash in the war chest is, therefore, a precaution and form of protection – it is a method of preparation for difficult times ahead.


Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
War Chest. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. March 28, 2020
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
War Chest. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: March 28, 2020).
American Psychological Association (APA):
War Chest. Retrieved March 28, 2020, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for War Chest are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 5th February 2020.