borrow

verb
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

Borrow

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from borrow

Verb

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

Synonyms for borrow

Synonyms: Verb

adopt, embrace, espouse, take on, take up

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

To borrow a Churchill phrase, inaction wouldn’t only give the disturbing impression the U.S. has a price, but also that its price is quite low. Lindsey Graham, WSJ, "Congress Gets Tough on the Saudis," 3 Dec. 2018 Throughout the video, Beyoncé and Jay-Z borrow inspiration from the strength and grace of women. Taylor Hosking, The Atlantic, "Beyonce and Jay-Z’s New Vision of Gender in ‘Apeshit’," 22 June 2018 To borrow a phrase from Sam Hinkie: Everything is a data point. Rob Mahoney, SI.com, "Breakaway: Inside the Life of Future Lottery Pick Mikal Bridges," 15 June 2018 To borrow a phrase to criticize your predecessors and political opponents. Jennifer Williams, Vox, "Read the full transcript of Trump’s North Korea summit press conference," 12 June 2018 Those details, however, don’t alter the bigger point: that Allison’s position on permit checking was reasonable, and, to borrow a phrase from an old book title, his stance offered a profile in courage. Gilbert Garcia, San Antonio Express-News, "Allison deserves props for principled stand on guns," 24 May 2018 To borrow a phrase the #Resistance likes: This is not normal. Bijan Stephen, GQ, "The Defiant Anthems of Chvrches," 21 May 2018 But the Blazer looks hot, especially in the black and red of its RS guise, and the slim eyes borrowed from the current Camaro do their job. Andrew Moseman, Popular Mechanics, "2019 Chevy Blazer Test Drive: What Happened When GM Tried To Make the Crossover Cool," 4 Feb. 2019 Royal family fans were quick to notice that Meghan Markle had seemingly borrowed an old jacket from husband Prince Harry to cover her baby bump. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Meghan Markle Has Started Wearing Prince Harry's Clothes Over Her Baby Bump," 2 Apr. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of borrow

Verb

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

History and Etymology for borrow

Verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for borrow

borrow

verb

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

borrow

verb
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
bor·​row

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on borrow

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with borrow

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for borrow

Spanish Central: Translation of borrow

Nglish: Translation of borrow for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of borrow for Arabic Speakers

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

to speak slightingly about or to degrade

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!