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[oh-ing] /ˈoʊ ɪŋ/
owed, unpaid, or due for payment:
to pay what is owing.
owing to, because of; as a result of:
Owing to a mistake in the payroll department, some of us were issued incorrect checks.
Origin of owing
Middle English word dating back to 1325-75; See origin at owe, -ing2
Related forms
unowing, adjective


[oh] /oʊ/
verb (used with object), owed, owing.
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.
verb (used without object), owed, owing.
to be in debt:
Neither lend nor owe. Who owes for the antipasto?
before 900; Middle English owen to possess, be under obligation, have to pay; Old English āgan to possess; cognate with Old High German eigan, Old Norse eiga. See own, ought1
Can be confused
O, oh, owe.
ode, owed. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for owing
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Even then, owing to the Marshals high position, it was difficult to strike.

  • Some of this was Greek to the Indian, owing to his imperfect knowledge of English.

    The Opal Serpent Fergus Hume
  • But owing to the rapid inclination, the pebbles yielded, and what he piled up rolled down.

    In the Roar of the Sea Sabine Baring-Gould
  • It was owing to this people that the three lines of kings went the straight way.

  • Once more M. Patrigent was on the wrong track, owing to Fanferlot's incomplete information.

    File No. 113 Emile Gaboriau
British Dictionary definitions for owing


(postpositive) owed; due
(preposition) owing to, because of or on account of


verb (mainly transitive)
to be under an obligation to pay (someone) to the amount of
(intransitive) to be in debt: he 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, etc: to 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
Old English āgan to have (C12: to have to); related to Old Saxon ēgan, Old High German eigan
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 owing



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.

An original Germanic preterite-present verb (cf. can, dare, may, etc.). New past tense form owed arose 15c. to replace oughte, which developed into ought (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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