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See synonyms for: oweowedowing on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object),owed, ow·ing.
  1. to be under obligation to pay or repay: to owe money to the bank; to owe the bank interest on a mortgage.

  2. to be in debt to: He says he doesn't owe anybody.

  1. to be indebted (to) as the cause or source of: to owe one's fame to good fortune.

  2. to have or bear (a feeling or attitude) toward someone or something: to owe gratitude to one's rescuers.

  3. Obsolete. to possess; own.

verb (used without object),owed, ow·ing.
  1. to be in debt: Neither lend nor owe. Who owes for the antipasto?

Origin of owe

before 900; Middle English owen to possess, be under obligation, have to pay; Old English āgan to possess; cognate with Old High German eigan,Old Norse eiga.See own, ought1

Words that may be confused with owe

Words Nearby owe

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use owe in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for owe


/ (əʊ) /

verb(mainly tr)
  1. to be under an obligation to pay (someone) to the amount of

  2. (intr) to be in debt: he still owes for his house

  1. (often foll by to) to have as a result (of): he owes his success to chance

  2. to feel the need or obligation to do, give, etc: to owe somebody thanks; to owe it to oneself to rest

  3. to hold or maintain in the mind or heart (esp in the phrase owe a grudge)

Origin of owe

Old English āgan to have (C12: to have to); related to Old Saxon ēgan, Old High German eigan

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