Simple Definition of owe
: to need to pay or repay money to a person, bank, business, etc.
: to need to do or give something to someone who has done something for you or given something to you
—used to say that something should be done for or given to someone
Full Definition of owe
2 a (1) : to be under obligation to pay or repay in return for something received : be indebted in the sum of <owes me $5> (2) : to be under obligation to render (as duty or service) <I owe you a favor> b : to be indebted to <owes the grocer for supplies>
3 : to be indebted for <owed his wealth to his father> <owes much to good luck>
1 : to be in debt <owes for his house>
2 : to be attributable <an idea that owes to Greek philosophy>
: to have a responsibility to do something to satisfy an obligation or duty <owes it to voters to explain his reasons>
Examples of owe
We owe no income tax.
I owe the bank a lot of money.
Additional payments are owed on the mortgage.
I still owe on the car.
I owe you a drink.
I owe you my thanks.
She still owes me for all the times I've helped her out.
Origin of owe
Middle English, to possess, own, owe, from Old English āgan; akin to Old High German eigun (1st & 3d plural present indicative) possess, Sanskrit īśe he possesses
First Known Use: before 12th century
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