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 Consumers could borrow easily to buy homes and cars. David J. Lynch, Anchorage Daily News, 20 June 2022 Decreasing the ability to borrow and resulting in less deal flow, rising rates are generally a net negative for the housing market as a whole. Zain Jaffer, Forbes, 15 June 2022 The ability of a relative unknown to borrow such massive amounts gave rise to speculation among Russia experts and Western officials about Kremlin connections. Washington Post, 11 Apr. 2022 Russia’s struggling economy President Biden then revealed plans to work with allies to deny Russia’s ability to borrow from leading multinational institutions, adding to Russia’s economic pain. Will Daniel, Fortune, 11 Mar. 2022 Normally, Saffa said, the ability to borrow money improves in stages. Byron Tate, Arkansas Online, 2 Feb. 2022 The latest figures come as Congress is acting this week to increase the government’s ability to borrow and is debating a roughly $2 trillion education, healthcare and climate bill. Amara Omeokwe, WSJ, 10 Dec. 2021 Final passage of that legislation, coupled with looming votes on a sprawling defense policy bill and raising the limit on the nation’s ability to borrow, could potentially place Ms. Murphy in the spotlight once again. New York Times, 5 Dec. 2021 Biden also needs to get Congress to move to temporarily fund the government and preserve its ability to borrow as the debt limit could be breached in December. Josh Boak, ajc, 30 Nov. 2021 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

28 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Borrow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jun. 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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