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90s Slang You Should Know


[bor-oh, bawr-oh] /ˈbɒr oʊ, ˈbɔr oʊ/
verb (used with object)
to take or obtain with the promise to return the same or an equivalent:
Our neighbor borrowed my lawn mower.
to use, appropriate, or introduce from another source or from a foreign source:
to borrow an idea from the opposition; to borrow a word from French.
Arithmetic. (in subtraction) to take from one denomination and add to the next lower.
verb (used without object)
to borrow something:
Don't borrow unless you intend to repay.
  1. to sail close to the wind; luff.
  2. to sail close to the shore.
Golf. to putt on other than a direct line from the lie of the ball to the hole, to compensate for the incline or roll of the green.
borrow trouble, to do something that is unnecessary and may cause future harm or inconvenience.
Origin of borrow
before 900; Middle English borowen, Old English borgian to borrow, lend, derivative of borg a pledge; akin to Dutch borg a pledge, borgen to charge, give credit, German Borg credit, borgen to take on credit
Related forms
borrowable, adjective
borrower, noun
nonborrowed, adjective
nonborrower, noun
overborrow, verb
unborrowed, adjective
Can be confused
borrow, lend, loan.
2. acquire, take, get; copy, pirate, plagiarize. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for borrow trouble
Historical Examples
  • Ah well, let us not borrow trouble, papa; perhaps he may prove a pretty good president after all.

    Elsie's Womanhood Martha Finley
  • He does not borrow trouble or cross a bridge before he comes to it.

  • Let her once begin, with high credit, to borrow trouble, and the future shall be well nigh drained of its myriad sorrows.

    The Young Maiden A. B. (Artemas Bowers) Muzzey
  • Tell people not to borrow trouble when they can borrow money.

    Otherwise Phyllis Meredith Nicholson
  • “I am not going to borrow trouble,” the Doctor declared, suavely.

    Vistas of New York Brander Matthews
  • And early in life they learned that it does no good to borrow trouble.

  • Of all things which it does, Girlhood should not borrow trouble.

  • It isn't best to borrow trouble; we shall have enough of it without.

    Timothy Crump's Ward Horatio Alger
  • So often I borrow trouble and cannot use it, when the peace that I possess is all that I need.

    Leaves of Life Margaret Bird Steinmetz
  • But do not let us borrow trouble, and let me tell you something to remember.

    The Master's Violin Myrtle Reed
British Dictionary definitions for borrow trouble


to obtain or receive (something, such as money) on loan for temporary use, intending to give it, or something equivalent or identical, back to the lender
to adopt (ideas, words, etc) from another source; appropriate
(not standard) to lend
(golf) to putt the ball uphill of the direct path to the hole
(intransitive) (golf) (of a ball) to deviate from a straight path because of the slope of the ground
(golf) a deviation of a ball from a straight path because of the slope of the ground: a left borrow
material dug from a borrow pit to provide fill at another
living on borrowed time
  1. living an unexpected extension of life
  2. close to death
Derived Forms
borrower, noun
Usage note
The use of off after borrow was formerly considered incorrect, but is now acceptable in informal contexts
Word Origin
Old English borgian; related to Old High German borgēn to take heed, give security


George (Henry). 1803–81, English traveller and writer. His best-known works are the semiautobiographical novels of Gypsy life and language, Lavengro (1851) and its sequel The Romany Rye (1857)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for borrow trouble



Old English borgian "to lend, be surety for," from Proto-Germanic *borg "pledge" (cf. Old English borg "pledge, security, bail, debt," Old Norse borga "to become bail for, guarantee," Middle Dutch borghen "to protect, guarantee," Old High German boragen "to beware of," German borgen "to borrow; to lend"), from PIE *bhergh- "to hide, protect" (see bury). Sense shifted in Old English to "borrow," apparently on the notion of collateral deposited as security for something borrowed. Related: Borrowed; borrowing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with borrow trouble

borrow trouble

Go out of one's way to do something that may be harmful, as in Just sign the will—telling her about it ahead of time is borrowing trouble. [ Mid-1800s ]
Also see: ask for, def. 2.


In addition to the idiom beginning with
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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