bor·​row | \ˈbär-(ˌ)ō, ˈbȯr-\
borrowed; borrowing; borrows

Definition of borrow 

(Entry 1 of 2)

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


biographical name
Bor·​row | \ˈbär-(ˌ)ō \

Definition of Borrow (Entry 2 of 2)

George Henry 1803–1881 English author

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Other Words from borrow


borrower \ ˈbär-​ə-​wər , ˈbȯr-​ \ noun

Synonyms for borrow

Synonyms: Verb

adopt, embrace, espouse, take on, take up

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

To borrow from golf: The instep of the foot is the equivalent of the modern 460cc toaster-on-a-stick compared with the old persimmon driver represented by Moseley’s three-and-a-half-inch, straight-front Nike Boomer cleat. Michael Farber,, "Mark Moseley, Last of the Straight-On Kickers," 2 July 2018 Millions of dollars in student loan forgiveness and refunds are in store for nearly 35,000 California students who borrowed private money to attend... Nanette Asimov,, "Student loan servicer cheats borrowers, California attorney general says," 28 June 2018 Naperville resident Thomas Hartmann said being able to borrow an e-bike for 6 to 8 weeks and return to the outdoors was life-changing. Suzanne Baker, Naperville Sun, "Naperville man adds pedaling to his paddling business," 24 May 2018 To borrow from one of Wonder Woman’s Justice League pals, the ride is over in a flash. Arthur Levine, USA TODAY, "Exclusive: Six Flags Fiesta Texas' Wonder Woman coaster review," 1 May 2018 But just because the dystopian near-future of this season of Handmaid’s Tale was able to borrow from current events, doesn’t mean the show’s creators think society is doomed. Angela Watercutter, WIRED, "Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 Looks Eerily More Familiar Than Season 1," 25 Apr. 2018 The investment-trust format has also given managers flexibility, as in the aftermath of the crash of 1987, when the fund was able to borrow money to buy shares on the cheap. The Economist, "A Victorian survivor in fund management," 18 Apr. 2018 To borrow a line from Bill Clinton, there is nothing wrong with Facebook that cannot be cured by what is right with Facebook. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Facebook’s Innocence Project," 10 Apr. 2018 Patrons will be able to borrow all kinds of guitars -- electric, acoustic, bass -- with all of the accessories, including sound system, tuners, cables, even guitar picks, as well as information on how to learn to play a guitar. Linda Gandee/special To,, "Avon Lake Library rocks into summer with Jimmy Buffett slime buffet and other creative fun," 10 Apr. 2018

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.

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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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Statistics for borrow

Last Updated

9 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for borrow

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

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More Definitions for borrow



English Language Learners Definition of borrow

: to take and use (something that belongs to someone else) for a period of time before returning it

: to take and use up (something) with the promise to give back something of equal value

: to use (an idea, saying, etc.) that was thought up by someone else


bor·​row | \ˈbär-ō \
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

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

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Comments on borrow

What made you want to look up borrow? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


full of whispering sounds

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