Try Our Apps


90s Slang You Should Know


[bor-oh-ing, bawr-] /ˈbɒr oʊ ɪŋ, ˈbɔr-/
the act of one who borrows.
the process by which something, as a word or custom, is adopted or absorbed.
the result of such a process; something borrowed, as a foreign word or phrase or a custom.
Origin of borrowing
Middle English word dating back to 1350-1400; See origin at borrow, -ing1
Related forms
nonborrowing, adjective
preborrowing, noun
unborrowing, adjective


[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.
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.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for borrowing
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • We have given Mr. Hale's opinion as to the improbability of borrowing.

    Magic and Religion Andrew Lang
  • He did not want the source of this borrowing power to become known as yet.

    Land of the Burnt Thigh Edith Eudora Kohl
  • Fig. 26 represents a chair which I have taken the liberty of borrowing from Mr. Eastlake's work on household art.

    Principles of Decorative Design Christopher Dresser
  • Such a situation as one kitchen not borrowing from another was incomprehensible.

    In Her Own Right John Reed Scott
  • Here in New York they have been pyramiding stocks, borrowing money from two trust companies which they control.

    The Silent Bullet Arthur B. Reeve
British Dictionary definitions for borrowing


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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for borrowing



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
Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with borrowing


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.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for borrowing

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for borrowing

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for borrowing