the act of lending; a grant of the temporary use of something: the loan of a book.
something lent or furnished on condition of being returned, especially a sum of money lent at interest: a $1000 loan at 10 percent interest.

verb (used with object)

to make a loan of; lend: Will you loan me your umbrella?
to lend (money) at interest.

verb (used without object)

to make a loan or loans; lend.


    on loan,
    1. borrowed for temporary use: How many books can I have on loan from the library at one time?
    2. temporarily provided or released by one's regular employer, superior, or owner for use by another: Our best actor is on loan to another movie studio for two films.

Origin of loan

1150–1200; Middle English lon(e), lan(e) (noun), Old English lān < Old Norse lān; replacing its cognate, Old English lǣn loan, grant, cognate with Dutch leen loan, German Leh(e)n fief; cf. lend
Related formsun·loaned, adjective
Can be confusedloan loneborrow lend loan

Usage note

Sometimes mistakenly identified as an Americanism, loan1 as a verb meaning “to lend” has been used in English for nearly 800 years: Nearby villages loaned clothing and other supplies to the flood-ravaged town. The occasional objections to loan as a verb referring to things other than money, are comparatively recent. Loan is standard in all contexts but is perhaps most common in financial ones: The government has loaned money to farmers to purchase seed.



noun Scot.

a country lane; secondary road.
an uncultivated plot of farmland, usually used for milking cows.
Also loan·ing [loh-ning] /ˈloʊ nɪŋ/.

Origin of loan

1325–75; Middle English, Old English lone lane1
Related formsun·loan·ing, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for loan

Contemporary Examples of loan

Historical Examples of loan

  • Young Sparrow must either starve or ask his neighbor to help him with a loan.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • He must go and humbly he must ask for the loan of a small sum of money.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • "Throw me the loan of a trusty Bartly, for a cushion," said he.

  • If it be a loan, Seor, I fear that the time is not opportune.

    Fair Margaret

    H. Rider Haggard

  • Mr. Mercier obtained from the city of Montreal the loan of fifteen picked men.

British Dictionary definitions for loan




the act of lendingthe loan of a car
  1. property lent, esp money lent at interest for a period of time
  2. (as modifier)loan holder
the adoption by speakers of one language of a form current in another language
short for loan word
on loan
  1. lent out; borrowed
  2. (esp of personnel) transferred from a regular post to a temporary one elsewhere


to lend (something, esp money)
Derived Formsloanable, adjectiveloaner, noun

Word Origin for loan

C13 loon, lan, from Old Norse lān; related to Old English lǣn loan; compare German Lehen fief, Lohn wages



loaning (ˈləʊnɪŋ)

noun Scot and Northern English dialect

a lane
a place where cows are milked

Word Origin for loan

Old English lone, variant of lane 1
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

Word Origin and History for loan

mid-13c., from Old Norse lan, related to lja "to lend," from Proto-Germanic *laikhwniz (cf. Old Frisian len "thing lent," Middle Dutch lene, Dutch leen "loan, fief," Old High German lehan, German Lehn "fief, feudal tenure"), originally "to let have, to leave (to someone)," from PIE *leikw- "to leave" (see relinquish).

The Norse word also is cognate with Old English læn "gift," which did not survive into Middle English, but its derived verb lænan is the source of lend. As a verb, loan is attested from 1540s, perhaps earlier, and formerly was current, but has now been supplanted in England by lend, though it survives in American English.

Loan word (1874) is a translation of German Lehnwort; loan-translation is attested 1933, from German Lehnübersetzung. Slang loan shark first attested 1900.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper