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

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 How to pronounce borrower (audio) , ˈbȯr-​ \ noun

Synonyms for borrow

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of borrow in a Sentence

Verb 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 Perhaps borrowed from Steph Curry, the moves by Auburn’s senior guard felt like the perfect manifestation of the mystical energy that Auburn Arena now produces for every home game. Joseph Goodman |, al, "For Samir Doughty and Auburn, the dancing must wait," 12 Feb. 2020 And the company borrowed a strategy from high-end hotels by developing a signature scent that drivers spray before each ride. Dallas News, "Dallas-based ride-hailing company Alto raises $6 million to expand in Dallas, start driving in two new cities," 30 Jan. 2020 The Mizrahi was borrowed from the designer himself, who will be the guest of honor at a luncheon at the museum May 7. Deborah Martin,, "“Fashion Nirvana” at McNay Art Museum spotlights fashion and video art from the ’90s.," 29 Jan. 2020 Bird Box, Stranger Things, Aquaman, and The Lighthouse all borrow from Lovecraft’s approach. Adam Epstein, Quartz, "Why filmmakers are still drawn to H.P. Lovecraft, racism and all," 27 Jan. 2020 Come kick off, some friend will be burdened with the unenviable task of finding the requisite begged, borrowed, or stolen login information and figuring out how to put the damn thing on. Amiel Stanek, Bon Appétit, "Make Pretzel Focaccia, Buy Good Sausages, Win the Super Bowl," 27 Jan. 2020 The Port later borrowed $2.6 million from the county to make earnest money payments to the Millennium's owners to keep the purchase contract alive. Randy Tucker,, "Deal to finance Millennium acquisition and demolition approved by county commissioners," 23 Jan. 2020 That is giving the housing market fresh momentum going into 2020, especially with the economy continuing to grow and borrowing rates remaining attractive. Sarah Chaney, WSJ, "U.S. Existing-Home Sales Wrapped Up 2019 on Solid Note," 22 Jan. 2020 At least $98 million of that cash was borrowed at a 9% interest rate from Banco BIC in Angola, a bank partly owned by dos Santos. Ben Hallman, Quartz Africa, "How Western advisers helped an autocrat’s daughter amass and shield a fortune," 19 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for borrow

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

16 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Borrow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for borrow


How to pronounce Borrow (audio)

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 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

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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More from Merriam-Webster on borrow

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for borrow

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with borrow

Spanish Central: Translation of borrow

Nglish: Translation of borrow for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of borrow for Arabic Speakers

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