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 Immelt borrowed to make big bets, such as spending $10.6 billion to buy the power division of France’s Alstom. Oliver Staley, Quartz at Work, "Whatever happened to Six Sigma?," 3 Sep. 2019 The Green Bay Packers have a training camp tradition of borrowing young fans' bicycles and riding them to practice. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "“Big Man” J.J. Watt Breaks 5-Year-Old Fan’s Bike, Promises to Replace It," 6 Aug. 2019 Pattis cites is a red Toyota Tacoma truck investigators believe Fotis borrowed from an employee on the morning of May 24, when Jennifer went missing, Connecticut State Police said in a 38-page arrest warrant. Kc Baker,, "Husband of Missing Conn. Woman Pleads Not Guilty to Tampering as Judge Issues Gag Order," 12 Sep. 2019 On the day of the disappearance, Fotis Dulos is believed to have driven a truck borrowed from one of his employees, according to the latest warrant. Rob Frehse And Theresa Waldrop, CNN, "Estranged husband of Jennifer Dulos is set to appear in court on new charges in her disappearance," 12 Sep. 2019 At the same time, the shapes of high-end men’s wear have been morphing, taking in silhouettes borrowed from street wear and the hip-hop style of the 1990s. Jon Caramanica, New York Times, "After Kanye, After Virgil, After Heron," 11 Sep. 2019 And there was money borrowed from a donor that needed to be paid back. Nicole Brodeur, The Seattle Times, "With one large check, Delridge’s Youngstown Cultural Arts Center feels validated," 23 July 2019 For the face-matching functions, which require the camera to be always looking, Google borrowed a page from the Apple playbook. Geoffrey A. Fowler, Houston Chronicle, "Google is always listening. Now it's watching, too, with the Nest Hub Max.," 9 Sep. 2019 Businesses are complaining about tariffs, not borrowing costs, which remain historically low. Matt Egan, CNN, "Wall Street's favorite recession signal suggests the economy is in trouble," 6 Sep. 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.

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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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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

Comments on borrow

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