1 of 3


: belonging to oneself or itself
usually used following a possessive case or possessive adjective
cooked my own dinner
was responsible for his own bad luck
used to express immediate or direct kinship
an own son
an own sister
my own family


2 of 3


owned; owning; owns

transitive verb

: to have or hold as property : possess
: to have power or mastery over
wanted to own his own life
: to acknowledge to be true, valid, or as claimed : admit
own a debt

intransitive verb

: to acknowledge something to be true, valid, or as claimed
used with to or up


3 of 3


singular or plural in construction
: one or ones belonging to oneself
used after a possessive and without a following noun
gave out books so that each of us had our own
a room of your own
on one's own
: for or by oneself : independently of assistance or control
made the decision on his own
: left to rely entirely on one's own resources
if you mess up, you're on your own
Choose the Right Synonym for own

acknowledge, admit, own, avow, confess mean to disclose against one's will or inclination.

acknowledge implies the disclosing of something that has been or might be concealed.

acknowledged an earlier peccadillo

admit implies reluctance to disclose, grant, or concede and refers usually to facts rather than their implications.

admitted the project was over budget

own implies acknowledging something in close relation to oneself.

must own I know little about computers

avow implies boldly declaring, often in the face of hostility, what one might be expected to be silent about.

avowed that he was a revolutionary

confess may apply to an admission of a weakness, failure, omission, or guilt.

confessed a weakness for sweets

Examples of own in a Sentence

Verb We hope to someday own our own home. She drives a red truck that was originally owned by her grandfather. He owns the rights to the band's music. The couple owns and operates the business. After everyone else denied any responsibility, he owned that he was at fault.
Recent Examples on the Web
The two also took tens of millions of public school dollars for their own personal use. Kristen Taketa, San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 Nov. 2023 But there's a growing contingent of Republicans who'd like Israel aid approved on its own, as the House has already done. Allison Pecorin, ABC News, 27 Nov. 2023 It was inspired by screenwriter Kelly Younger’s own holiday experiences on Candy Cane Lane in El Segundo, California. Emily Zemler, Rolling Stone, 27 Nov. 2023 Then a contact card with your email and phone number may pop up on your own device. Reece Rogers, WIRED, 27 Nov. 2023 And even if your own winter wardrobe is set, these Abercrombie Cyber Monday deals are also ideal for gifting. Malia Griggs, Glamour, 27 Nov. 2023 Hilton has been open about her own experience of abuse as a teenager. Heather Hunter, Washington Examiner, 27 Nov. 2023 Its official YouTube channel contains not only live show videos but also behind-the-scenes videos and original music by the project’s own virtual artist, ICQ. Billboard Japan, Billboard, 27 Nov. 2023 Kelsey Hatcher was born with two uteri, each with its own cervix — a condition known as uterine didelphys. Natalie Kainz, NBC News, 16 Nov. 2023
The four plants, owned by Astoria Generating Co., will add 505 megawatts (MW) to New York City’s power reserves, which otherwise would have a deficit of 446 MW. Daniel Markind, Forbes, 28 Nov. 2023 That is something in our philosophy: to be able to go towards the goal, not to own the goal day one, basically. Laird Borrelli-Persson, Vogue, 28 Nov. 2023 On view from February 10–July 7, 2024, this is the first major exhibition of the world-class collection of multigenerational Black diasporic artists owned by the iconic couple. Okla Jones, Essence, 28 Nov. 2023 Starlink, which is owned and operated by Musk’s rocket company SpaceX, formally named Space Exploration Technologies Corp., has provided him with the ability to woo world leaders from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to officials at the Pentagon, by offering essential communications services. Simon Marks, Fortune, 28 Nov. 2023 Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, declined to comment on the record. Ken Dilanian, NBC News, 28 Nov. 2023 Reviews editor Adrienne So has owned this blanket for several years. Nena Farrell, WIRED, 27 Nov. 2023 One of the wedding guests owned a children’s boutique in Los Angeles and asked Ms. Getty to make more. Jessica Testa, New York Times, 16 Nov. 2023 As of 2021, the top 10,000 Bitcoin investors together owned 5 million bitcoins, or approximately $230 billion—replicating the unequal wealth distribution outside of Bitcoin. WIRED, 16 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'own.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English oȝen, owen, awen, going back to Old English āgen, originally past participle of āgan "to possess, own, have" — more at owe

Note: Similar use of the past participle of the cognate verb is evident in other Germanic languages: Old Frisian āin, ēin, ēgen "own," Old Saxon ēgan, Middle Dutch ēghin, eighen, Old High German eigan, Old Icelandic eiginn.


probably verbal derivative of own entry 1

Note: This verb is apparently unattested before the late sixteenth century, and is not continuous with early Middle English æȝenen, ahnen, ahnien (Layamon's Brut, Ormulum) "to gain control of, have possession of," going back to Old English āgnian "to own, possess, take possession of" (with parallel forms in other Germanic languages), a derivative of āgen own entry 1. Compare owner, from which own may be in part a back-formation.


Middle English owne, going back to Old English āgen, nominalized form of āgen own entry 1

First Known Use


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


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


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

Time Traveler
The first known use of own was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near own

Cite this Entry

“Own.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/own. Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 3 adjective
: belonging to oneself or itself
my own room


2 of 3 verb
: to have or hold as property : possess
: to have power or control over
wanted to own her own life
: to admit that something is true : confess
owned to being scared
if you broke the window, own up
owner noun


3 of 3 pronoun singular or plural
: one or ones belonging to oneself
used after a possessive
dog of his own

Legal Definition


transitive verb
: to have or hold as property
especially : to have title to
own property

More from Merriam-Webster on own

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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