- to be under obligation to pay or repay: to owe money to the bank; to owe the bank interest on a mortgage.
- to be in debt to: He says he doesn't owe anybody.
- to be indebted (to) as the cause or source of: to owe one's fame to good fortune.
- to have or bear (a feeling or attitude) toward someone or something: to owe gratitude to one's rescuers.
- Obsolete. to possess; own.
- to be in debt: Neither lend nor owe. Who owes for the antipasto?
Origin of owe
Examples from the Web for owe
That they got one may owe something to the organization's political connections.NYC’s Garner Protesters vs. Pro-Cop Protesters
December 20, 2014
We exclude Catholics because they owe allegiance to an institution that is foreign to the Government of the United States.A Brief History of Wingnuts in America; From George Washington to Woodstock
August 17, 2014
His last words were, “Crito, we owe a rooster to Asclepius.”What Did TJ Mean By “Pursuit of Happiness,” Anyway?
P. J. O’Rourke
June 8, 2014
Well, we all owe it to this generation of people, who worked so hard to give us the rights that we have today.Matt Bomer Tells the Personal Story Behind His Heartbreaking ‘Normal Heart’ Performance
May 21, 2014
We owe it to our young and vulnerable patients to use these medications sparingly and judiciously.Why Giving Adderall to Toddlers Is So Completely, Utterly Wrong
May 19, 2014
In view of the violence you made use of, I consider that you owe my son an apology.Brave and Bold
He didn't like to owe anything to other people, not even to Prissie.Life and Death of Harriett Frean
I owe no thanks to Mrs. Whitney, with her prunes and her prisms and her penny-pinchings.
Yes, I'm afraid I owe a lot of money, but must we—just to-night?
We owe the discovery of this important document to Mr. Newman Flower.Handel
Edward J. Dent
- to be under an obligation to pay (someone) to the amount of
- (intr) to be in debthe still owes for his house
- (often foll by to) to have as a result (of)he owes his success to chance
- to feel the need or obligation to do, give, etcto owe somebody thanks; to owe it to oneself to rest
- to hold or maintain in the mind or heart (esp in the phrase owe a grudge)
Word Origin and History for owe
Old English agan (past tense ahte) "to have, own," from Proto-Germanic *aiganan "to possess" (cf. Old Frisian aga, Old Norse eiga, Old High German eigan, Gothic aigan "to possess, have"), from PIE *aik- "to be master of, possess" (cf. Sanskrit ise "he owns," isah "owner, lord, ruler;" Avestan is- "riches," isvan- "well-off, rich").
Sense of "to have to repay" began in late Old English with the phrase agan to geldanne literally "to own to yield," which was used to translate Latin debere (earlier in Old English this would have been sceal "shall"); by late 12c. the phrase had been shortened to simply agan, and own (v.) took over this word's original sense.