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[ohn] /oʊn/
of, relating to, or belonging to oneself or itself (usually used after a possessive to emphasize the idea of ownership, interest, or relation conveyed by the possessive):
He spent only his own money.
(used as an intensifier to indicate oneself as the sole agent of some activity or action, preceded by a possessive):
He insists on being his own doctor.
verb (used with object)
to have or hold as one's own; possess:
They own several homes.
to acknowledge or admit:
to own a fault.
to acknowledge as one's own; recognize as having full claim, authority, power, dominion, etc.:
He owned his child before the entire assembly. They owned the king as their lord.
to totally defeat, gain control over, or dominate in a competition: I totally owned the last two levels of the game.
He owned the season from beginning to end and took the world title.
to take over a (a computer system, program, or computer) without authorization:
The network has been owned by a hacker.
verb (used without object)
to confess (often followed by to, up, or up to):
The one who did it had better own up. I own to being uncertain about that.
come into one's own,
  1. to take possession of that which is due or owed one.
  2. to receive the recognition that one's abilities merit:
    She finally came into her own as a sculptor of the first magnitude.
get one's own back, to get revenge and thereby a sense of personal satisfaction, as for a slight or a previous setback; get even with somebody or something:
He saw the award as a way of getting his own back for all the snubs by his colleagues.
hold one's own,
  1. to maintain one's position or condition:
    The stock market seems to be holding its own these days.
  2. to be equal to the opposition:
    He can hold his own in any fight.
of one's own, belonging to oneself:
She had never had a room of her own.
on one's own,
  1. by dint of one's own efforts, resources, or sense of responsibility; independently:
    Because she spoke the language, she got around the country very well on her own.
  2. living or functioning without dependence on others; independent:
    My son's been on his own for several years.
Origin of own
before 900; (adj.) Middle English owen, Old English āgen (cognate with German eigen, Old Norse eigenn), orig. past participle of āgan to possess (see owe); (v.) Middle English ownen, Old English āgnian, āhnian, derivative of āgen
Related forms
nonowning, adjective
unowned, adjective
3. See have.
3. lack, need. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for owning
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was to be at his free disposal, and this was nearly the same thing as owning it.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • Rights we had bargained for with men, which they, not owning them, had gravely given!

    It Happened in Egypt C. N. Williamson
  • I shrunk with morbid nervousness from owning to any knowledge of Eugen.

    The First Violin Jessie Fothergill
  • She smiled down at him as though she were owning to something worthy; "I hope so," she said.

    Murder Point

    Coningsby Dawson
  • The fact that he had left it did not restore to him his old feeling of owning the earth.

    The Prisoner Alice Brown
British Dictionary definitions for owning


determiner (preceded by a possessive)
  1. (intensifier): John's own idea, your own mother
  2. (as pronoun): I'll use my own
on behalf of oneself or in relation to oneself: he is his own worst enemy
come into one's own
  1. to become fulfilled: she really came into her own when she got divorced
  2. to receive what is due to one
(informal) get one's own back, to have revenge
hold one's own, to maintain one's situation or position, esp in spite of opposition or difficulty
on one's own
  1. without help
  2. by oneself; alone
(transitive) to have as one's possession
when intr, often foll by up, to, or up to. to confess or admit; acknowledge
(transitive; takes a clause as object) (rare) to concede: I own that you are right
Word Origin
Old English āgen, originally past participle of āgan to have; related to Old Saxon ēgan, Old Norse eiginn. See owe
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 owning



Old English agen "one's own," literally "possessed by," from Proto-Germanic *aigana- "possessed, owned" (cf. Old Saxon egan, Old Frisian egin, Old Norse eiginn, Dutch eigen, German eigen "own"), from past participle of PIE *aik- "to be master of, possess," source of Old English agan "to have" (see owe).



evolved in early Middle English from Old English geagnian, from root agan "to have, to own" (see owe), and in part from the adjective own (q.v.). It became obsolete after c.1300, but was revived early 17c., in part as a back-formation of owner (mid-14c.), which continued. Related: Owned; owning. To own up "make full confession" is from 1853.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with owning
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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