Definition of owe
1a archaic : possess, ownb : 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.
2a (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 (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
3 : to be indebted for owed his wealth to his father owes much to good luck
1 : to be in debt owes for his house
2 : to be attributable an idea that owes to Greek philosophy
: 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.
Origin and Etymology of owe
Middle English, to possess, own, owe, from Old English āgan; akin to Old High German eigun (1st & 3d plural present indicative) possess, Sanskrit īśe he possesses
First Known Use: before 12th century
OWE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of owe for English Language Learners
: 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
OWE Defined for Kids
Definition of owe for Students
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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