[ 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.

Origin of borrow

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

Can be confused

borrow lend loan

Definition for borrow (2 of 2)


[ bor-oh, bawr-oh ]
/ ˈbɒr oʊ, ˈbɔr oʊ /


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

Related forms

Bor·ro·vi·an [buh-roh-vee-uh n] /bəˈroʊ vi ən/, adjective, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for borrow

British Dictionary definitions for borrow (1 of 2)


/ (ˈbɒrəʊ) /



Derived Forms

borrower, noun

Word Origin for borrow

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


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

British Dictionary definitions for borrow (2 of 2)


/ (ˈbɒrəʊ) /


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

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.