\ ˈō How to pronounce owe (audio) \
owed; owing

Definition of owe

transitive verb

1a(1) : to be under obligation to pay or repay in return for something received : be indebted in the sum of owes me $5
(2) : to be under obligation to render (something, such as duty or service) I owe you a favor. A lawyer owes her client legal advice.
b : to be indebted to owes the grocer for supplies
2 : to be indebted for owed his wealth to his father owes much to good luck
3a : to have or bear (an emotion or attitude) to someone or something owes the boss a grudge owes his friend an apology They owe allegiance to their country. Children owe their parents respect.
b archaic : possess, own

intransitive verb

1 : to be in debt owes for his house
2 : to be attributable an idea that owes to Greek philosophy
owe it
: to have a responsibility to do something to satisfy an obligation or duty owes it to voters to explain his reasons I owed it to her to give her this opportunity— Colin MacIness

Examples of owe in a Sentence

We owe no income tax. I owe the bank a lot of money. Additional payments are owed on the mortgage. I still owe on the car. I owe you a drink. I owe you my thanks. She still owes me for all the times I've helped her out.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The 29-year-old — who is owed roughly $105 million for the next three seasons — spent the last two years alongside Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City. Tim Reynolds, Houston Chronicle, "Source: Clippers to land Kawhi Leonard, Paul George," 6 July 2019 The 29-year-old — who is owed roughly $105 million for the next three seasons — spent the last two years alongside Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City. Tim Reynolds, BostonGlobe.com, "Clippers sign Kawhi Leonard, trade for Paul George," 6 July 2019 Hanafi estimated Getaround owes $1.6 million for wages and penalties, far more than the company will pay in settlements. Ellen Huet, latimes.com, "Latest Dynamex twist: Cash this check for $250, and sign away your right to sue," 6 July 2019 Entering this fiscal year, Lore was still owed $291 million in cash from the acquisition over the next three years, as well as shares of Walmart stock that’s valued at nearly $300 million today. Jason Del Rey, Vox, "Inside the conflict at Walmart that’s threatening its high-stakes race with Amazon," 3 July 2019 In 1999, the New York Mets wanted to get rid of Bonilla, but still owed him almost $6 million on his contract. Aj Willingham, CNN, "This guy hasn't played in the MLB since 2001. But one team is paying him $1.2 million a year until 2035," 1 July 2019 If retained on his current deal, Hill is owed $18 million next season. Matt Velazquez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bucks plan to waive veteran guard George Hill," 28 June 2019 And two, Durant would be owed more than $50 million when his then-35-year-old self plays the final year of that contract. Tim Reynolds, orlandosentinel.com, "In big-money times, NBA teams face biggest risks," 28 June 2019 Illinois owes the federal government $4.1 million for failing to seek rebates from drug companies for medications prescribed through the state’s Medicaid program, according to a federal audit released Friday. Lisa Schencker, chicagotribune.com, "Illinois owes $4 million to feds following Medicaid missteps, audit shows," 28 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'owe.' 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 owe

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 3b

History and Etymology for owe

Middle English, to possess, own, owe, from Old English āgan; akin to Old High German eigun (1st & 3rd plural present indicative) possess, Sanskrit īśe he possesses

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Statistics for owe

Last Updated

9 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for owe

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

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More Definitions for owe



English Language Learners Definition of owe

: to need to pay or repay money to a person, bank, business, etc.
: to need to do or give something to someone who has done something for you or given something to you
used to say that something should be done for or given to someone


\ ˈō How to pronounce owe (audio) \
owed; owing

Kids Definition of owe

1 : to be obligated to pay, give, or return I still owe 100 dollars. I don't owe any favors to anyone.
2 : to be in debt to You owe me money.
3 : to have as a result I owe my success to hard work.

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More from Merriam-Webster on owe

Spanish Central: Translation of owe

Nglish: Translation of owe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of owe for Arabic Speakers

Comments on owe

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