bor·​row | \ ˈbär-(ˌ)ō How to pronounce borrow (audio) , ˈbȯr- \
borrowed; borrowing; borrows

Definition of borrow

transitive verb

1a : to receive with the implied or expressed intention of returning the same or an equivalent borrow a book from the library borrowed a dollar borrowing a cup of sugar from a neighbor
b finance : to borrow (money) with the intention of returning the same plus interest (see interest entry 1 sense 3a) borrow money from the bank
2a : to appropriate for one's own use borrow a metaphor from Shakespeare
b : derive, adopt traditions borrowed from African polytheism
3 mathematics : to take (one) from a digit of the minuend in arithmetical subtraction in order to add as 10 to the digit holding the next lower place
4 : to adopt into one language from another The English word "entrepreneur" was borrowed from French.
5 dialect : lend Borrow me your pencil.

intransitive verb

: to borrow something borrows heavily from Nietzsche
borrow trouble
: to do something unnecessarily that may result in adverse reaction or repercussions

Other Words from borrow

borrower \ ˈbär-​ə-​wər How to pronounce borrow (audio) , ˈbȯr-​ \ noun

Examples of borrow in a Sentence

The twins often borrow each other's clothes. I'm borrowing a friend's car for the weekend. He borrowed the book from the library. Will you see if we can borrow a cup of sugar from the neighbors? She borrowed $20 from me. The speech was peppered with phrases borrowed from Winston Churchill. She borrowed the technique from local artisans. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Others borrow books from the library just across the street. Alixel Cabrera, The Salt Lake Tribune, 8 May 2022 On the other side, though, the look does borrow elements of grunge, as many Met Gala guests demonstrated. Pema Bakshi,, 5 May 2022 Return to Monkey Island will also borrow a frustration-management feature from Monkey Island 2 and Thimbleweed Park: an easy mode. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, 25 Apr. 2022 Plans are $69 for your first month (borrow up to four items) to $149 monthly (up to 16 items for your first two months; after that, pay $94 to $235 per month. Celia Shatzman, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 Apr. 2022 Maryland will borrow as much as $400 million to revamp the area around the Commanders’ FedEx Field stadium, under a deal that Gov. Larry Hogan (R) could sign into law as soon as Tuesday. Washington Post, 11 Apr. 2022 The authority would have the power to acquire land through eminent domain, conduct environmental reviews and borrow money at a lower rate than private utilities, in theory leading to lower costs for consumers. Sammy Rothstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 31 Mar. 2022 Short sellers borrow shares and sell them, with a plan to repurchase them at lower prices and pocket the difference. Allison Prang, WSJ, 30 Mar. 2022 The rich often borrow against their holdings to build more wealth and fund their lifestyles, while avoiding adding to their annual income tax tab. Tami Luhby And Katie Lobosco, CNN, 28 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'borrow.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of borrow

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for borrow

Middle English borwen, from Old English borgian; akin to Old English beorgan to preserve — more at bury

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Time Traveler for borrow

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The first known use of borrow was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

11 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Borrow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for borrow


bor·​row | \ ˈbär-ō How to pronounce borrow (audio) \
borrowed; borrowing

Kids Definition of borrow

1 : to take and use something with the promise of returning it Can I borrow your pen?
2 : to use something begun or thought up by another : adopt borrow an idea
3 : to adopt into one language from another Many English words are borrowed from French.

Other Words from borrow

borrower \ ˈbär-​ə-​wər \ noun


transitive verb

Legal Definition of borrow

: to take or receive temporarily specifically : to receive (money) with the intention of returning the same plus interest

Other Words from borrow

borrower noun

Borrow biographical name

Bor·​row | \ ˈbär-(ˌ)ō How to pronounce Borrow (audio) \

Definition of Borrow

George Henry 1803–1881 English author

More from Merriam-Webster on borrow

Nglish: Translation of borrow for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of borrow for Arabic Speakers


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