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)

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.

Nearby words

  1. owlet,
  2. owlet moth,
  3. owlet nightjar,
  4. owlish,
  5. owlishly,
  6. own brand,
  7. own goal,
  8. own medicine,
  9. own person, be one's,
  10. own up


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 formsnon·own·ing, adjectiveun·owned, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for on one's own


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 oneselfhe is his own worst enemy
come into one's own
  1. to become fulfilledshe really came into her own when she got divorced
  2. to receive what is due to one
get one's own back informal 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


(tr) to have as one's possession
(when intr, often foll by up, to, or up to) to confess or admit; acknowledge
(tr; takes a clause as object) rare to concedeI own that you are right

Word Origin for own

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

Word Origin and History for on one's own
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with on one's own

on one's own


By one's own efforts or resources, as in He built the entire addition on his own. [Mid-1900s]


Responsible for oneself, independent of outside help or control, as in Dave moved out last fall; he's on his own now. [Mid-1900s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with own

  • own medicine
  • own person, be one's
  • own up

also see:

  • afraid of one's own shadow
  • after one's own heart
  • beat someone at his or her own game
  • blow one's own horn
  • call one's own
  • close to home
  • come into (one's own)
  • dig one's own grave
  • do one's (own) thing
  • dose of one's own medicine
  • get (one's own) back
  • get one's (own) way
  • go one's (own) way
  • hold one's own
  • in one's (own) interest
  • in one's own backyard
  • in one's own right
  • in one's own world
  • keep one's own counsel
  • know one's own mind
  • leave to someone's own devices
  • mind of one's own
  • mind one's own business
  • of one's own accord
  • on one's (own) feet
  • on one's own
  • on one's own account
  • on one's own time
  • paddle one's own canoe
  • pay back in one's own coin
  • pay one's (own) way
  • pick on (someone your own size)
  • pull one's (own) weight
  • sign one's own death warrant
  • stew in one's own juice
  • take into one's (own) hands
  • under one's own steam
  • write one's own ticket
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.