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
Gunnar Henderson generated a run on his own in the first — smacking a leadoff single, advancing to second on an Adley Rutschman groundout, stealing third and scoring on a throwing error by Athletics catcher Shea Langeliers. Jacob Calvin Meyer, Baltimore Sun, 6 July 2024 Great to wear unbuttoned as a beach coverup or buttoned as a stylish shirt on its own, a linen button-down is always a good idea to include in your suitcase. Amber Love Bond, Travel + Leisure, 6 July 2024
Nothing is confirmed yet, but some of the artifacts are thought to have been owned by Davis, Cenci explained. Sydney Bishop, CNN, 7 July 2024 This hometown real estate company, owned by husband and wife team Jon and Stacy Bichelmeyer, has more than 20 years of experience buying homes in all conditions and does it quickly without the often painful and stressful selling process. Archway Homes, Kansas City Star, 7 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for own 

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 18 Jul. 2024.

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 singular or plural pronoun
: 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

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