[ bor-oh, bawr-oh ]
See synonyms for borrow on
verb (used with object)
  1. to take or obtain with the promise to return the same or an equivalent: Our neighbor borrowed my lawn mower.

  2. 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.

  1. Arithmetic. (in subtraction) to take from one denomination and add to the next lower.

verb (used without object)
  1. to borrow something: Don't borrow unless you intend to repay.

  2. Nautical.

    • to sail close to the wind; luff.

    • to sail close to the shore.

  1. 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.

Idioms about borrow

  1. borrow trouble, to do something that is unnecessary and may cause future harm or inconvenience.

Origin of borrow

First recorded before 900; Middle English borowen, Old English borgian “to borrow, lend,” verb derivative of borg “a pledge”; cognate with Dutch borg “a pledge,” borgen “to charge, give credit,” German Borg “credit,” borgen “to take on credit”

Other words for borrow

Other words from borrow

  • bor·row·a·ble, adjective
  • bor·row·er, noun
  • non·bor·rowed, adjective
  • non·bor·row·er, noun
  • o·ver·bor·row, verb
  • un·bor·rowed, adjective

Words that may be confused with borrow

Words Nearby borrow

Other definitions for Borrow (2 of 2)

[ bor-oh, bawr-oh ]

  1. George, 1803–81, English traveler, writer, and student of languages, especially Romani.

Other words from Borrow

  • Bor·ro·vi·an [buh-roh-vee-uhn], /bəˈroʊ vi ən/, adjective, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use borrow in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for borrow (1 of 2)


/ (ˈbɒrəʊ) /

  1. 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

  2. to adopt (ideas, words, etc) from another source; appropriate

  1. not standard to lend

  2. golf to putt the ball uphill of the direct path to the hole

  3. (intr) golf (of a ball) to deviate from a straight path because of the slope of the ground

  1. golf a deviation of a ball from a straight path because of the slope of the ground: a left borrow

  2. material dug from a borrow pit to provide fill at another

  1. living on borrowed time

    • living an unexpected extension of life

    • close to death

Origin of borrow

Old English borgian; related to Old High German borgēn to take heed, give security

usage For borrow

The use of off after borrow was formerly considered incorrect, but is now acceptable in informal contexts

Derived forms of borrow

  • borrower, noun

British Dictionary definitions for Borrow (2 of 2)


/ (ˈbɒrəʊ) /

  1. 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

Other Idioms and Phrases with borrow


In addition to the idiom beginning with borrow

  • borrow trouble

also see:

  • beg, borrow, or steal
  • on borrowed time

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.