borrow

verb

bor·​row ˈbär-(ˌ)ō How to pronounce borrow (audio)
ˈbȯr-
borrowed; borrowing; borrows

transitive verb

1
a
: 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
2
a
: 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
borrower noun
Phrases
borrow trouble
: to do something unnecessarily that may result in adverse reaction or repercussions

Example Sentences

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The government had previously resorted to the old playbook of encouraging local governments to borrow more money to fund infrastructure projects to boost growth. Laura He, CNN, 31 Jan. 2023 After those are exhausted, the debt limit must be raised or suspended in order for the United States to borrow money to pay its bills. Joe Rennison, New York Times, 30 Jan. 2023 Congress must pass a law raising the current limit of $31.4 trillion or the Treasury Department can’t borrow any more. Abha Bhattarai, Washington Post, 19 Jan. 2023 Congress must pass a law raising the current limit of $31.4 trillion or the Treasury Department can't borrow any more, even to pay for spending lawmakers have already authorized. Arkansas Online, 15 Jan. 2023 Congress must pass a law raising the current limit of $31.4 trillion or the Treasury Department can’t borrow any more, even to pay for spending lawmakers have already authorized. Jeff Stein, Leigh Ann Caldwell And Theodoric Meyer, Anchorage Daily News, 14 Jan. 2023 Without congressional action to raise that limit, the government can’t borrow beyond it. Richard Mcgahey, Forbes, 10 Jan. 2023 There have been two instances where the department ran out of engines and couldn’t borrow from a neighbor, Swaney said. Blake Nelsonstaff Reporter, San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 May 2022 The government’s decision not to borrow might indicate a wariness about fueling inflation, which jumped to a seven-year high in March as sanctions ratcheted up the price of imports. Alexander Osipovich, WSJ, 2 May 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English borwen, from Old English borgian; akin to Old English beorgan to preserve — more at bury

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near borrow

Cite this Entry

“Borrow.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/borrow. Accessed 8 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

borrow

verb
bor·​row ˈbär-ō How to pronounce borrow (audio)
ˈbȯr-
1
: to take or receive something with the promise or intention of returning it
2
: to take for one's own use something begun or thought up by another : adopt
borrow an idea
3
: to take 1 from the digit in a minuend and add it as 10 to the digit in the next lower place
borrower noun

Legal Definition

borrow

transitive verb
bor·​row
: to take or receive temporarily
specifically : to receive (money) with the intention of returning the same plus interest
borrower noun

Biographical Definition

Borrow

biographical name

Bor·​row ˈbär-(ˌ)ō How to pronounce Borrow (audio)
George Henry 1803–1881 English author

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