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A ledger is the principal book or computer file for recording and totaling economic transactions measured in terms of a monetary unit of account by account type, with debits and credits in separate columns and a beginning monetary balance and ending monetary balance for each account.
The ledger is a permanent summary of all amounts entered in supporting journals which list individual transactions by date. Every transaction flows from a journal to one or more ledgers. A company's financial statements are generated from summary totals in the ledgers.
The term ledger stems from the English dialect forms liggen or leggen, meaning to lie or lay (German: liegen oder legen); in sense it is adapted from the Dutch substantive legger, properly a book laying or remaining regularly in one place. Originally, a ledger was a large volume of scripture or service book kept in one place in church and openly accessible. According to Charles Wriothesley's Chronicle (1538), "The curates should provide a booke of the bible in Englishe, of the largest volume, to be a ledger in the same church for the parishioners to read on."
In application of this original meaning the commercial usage of the term is for the "principal book of account" in a business house.
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