Failure to make payments such as the interest or redemption payments on debt on the due date. Default may be partial or total, ranging from a slight delay in payment accompanied by apologies and promises that payment will soon be forthcoming to total and defiant repudiation. Default is frequently avoided by creditors agreeing to reschedule debt, which they may prefer as it avoids showing bad debts in their own accounts. The main deterrent to default for individuals and firms is that bankruptcy or insolvency makes it difficult to carry on trading. For countries, which as sovereign debtors cannot be made bankrupt, the deterrent to default is that it makes future loans very difficult to obtain.
Reference: Oxford Press Dictonary of Economics, 5th edt.