• synonyms


verb (used with object)
  1. to deposit as security, as for money borrowed, especially with a pawnbroker: He raised the money by pawning his watch.
  2. to pledge; stake; risk: to pawn one's life.
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  1. the state of being deposited or held as security, especially with or by a pawnbroker: jewels in pawn.
  2. something given or deposited as security, as for money borrowed.
  3. a person serving as security; hostage.
  4. the act of pawning.
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Origin of pawn

1490–1500; (noun) < Middle French pan; Old French pan(d), pant, apparently < West Germanic; compare Old Frisian pand, Old Saxon, Middle Dutch pant, German Pfand; (v.) derivative of the noun
Related formspawn·a·ble, adjectivepawn·er [paw-ner] /ˈpɔ nər/, paw·nor [paw-ner, -nawr] /ˈpɔ nər, -nɔr/, nounun·pawned, adjective

Synonyms for pawn

4. pledge.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for pawning

dupe, puppet, stooge, patsy, collateral, pledge, gambit, forfeit, guaranty, earnest, token, security, bond, warrant, assurance, guarantee, gage, toy, sucker, tool

Examples from the Web for pawning

Historical Examples of pawning

  • It doesn't do to talk of pawning things—not respectable, eh—eh.

    The Opal Serpent

    Fergus Hume

  • This is the third Brandenburg pawning: let us hope there may be a fourth and last.

  • The pawning of part of the cargo to get money for the payment of the duty on the remainder.

    The Sailor's Word-Book

    William Henry Smyth

  • By pawning some of his clothes and making other sacrifices he was able to get them off.

    Charles Frohman: Manager and Man

    Isaac Frederick Marcosson and Daniel Frohman

  • The conditions of the country suggest a reason for the pawning of wives.

British Dictionary definitions for pawning


verb (tr)
  1. to deposit (an article) as security for the repayment of a loan, esp from a pawnbroker
  2. to staketo pawn one's honour
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  1. an article deposited as security
  2. the condition of being so deposited (esp in the phrase in pawn)
  3. a person or thing that is held as a security, esp a hostage
  4. the act of pawning
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Derived Formspawnage, noun

Word Origin for pawn

C15: from Old French pan security, from Latin pannus cloth, apparently because clothing was often left as a surety; compare Middle Flemish paen pawn, German Pfand pledge


  1. a chessman of the lowest theoretical value, limited to forward moves of one square at a time with the option of two squares on its initial move: it captures with a diagonal move onlyAbbreviation: P Compare piece (def. 12)
  2. a person, group, etc, manipulated by another
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Word Origin for pawn

C14: from Anglo-Norman poun, from Old French pehon, from Medieval Latin pedō infantryman, from Latin pēs foot
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 pawning



"something left as security," late 15c. (mid-12c. as Anglo-Latin pandum), from Old French pan, pant "pledge, security," also "booty, plunder," perhaps from Frankish or some other Germanic source (cf. Old High German pfant, German Pfand, Middle Dutch pant, Old Frisian pand "pledge"), from West Germanic *panda, of unknown origin.

The Old French word is identical to pan "cloth, piece of cloth," from Latin pannum (nominative pannus) "cloth, piece of cloth, garment" and Klein's sources feel this is the source of both the Old French and West Germanic words (perhaps on the notion of cloth used as a medium of exchange).

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lowly chess piece, late 14c., from Anglo-French poun, Old French peon, earlier pehon, from Medieval Latin pedonem "foot soldier," from Late Latin pedonem (nominative pedo) "one going on foot," from Latin pes (genitive pedis) "foot" (see foot (n.)). The chess sense was in Old French by 13c. Figurative use, of persons, is from 1580s.

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"to give (something) as security in exchange for," 1560s, from pawn (n.1). Related: Pawned; pawning.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper