from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To be indebted to the amount of: He owes me five dollars.
  • transitive v. To have a moral obligation to render or offer: I owe them an apology.
  • transitive v. To be in debt to: We owe the plumber for services rendered.
  • transitive v. To be indebted or obliged for: owed their riches to oil; owes her good health to diet and exercise.
  • transitive v. To bear (a certain feeling) toward a person or persons: You seem to owe your neighbors a grudge.
  • transitive v. Archaic To have as a possession; own.
  • intransitive v. To be in debt: She still owes for the car.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To be under an obligation to give something back to someone or to perform some action for someone.
  • v. To have debt, to be in debt.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To possess; to have, as the rightful owner; to own.
  • transitive v. To have or possess, as something derived or bestowed; to be obliged to ascribe (something to some source); to be indebted or obliged for.
  • transitive v. To have or be under an obigation to restore, pay, or render (something) in return or compensation for something received; to be indebted in the sum of
  • transitive v. To have an obligation to (some one) on account of something done or received; to be indebted to.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To possess; have; own; be the owner or rightful possessor of.
  • To be bound (to do something); be under obligation; ought: followed by an object infinitive.
  • To be indebted for; be or feel bound or under obligation for; of a debt, to be under obligation to pay: followed by to, it often indicates origin or cause: as, to owe a thousand dollars; to owe some one a grudge; to owe success to family influence.
  • To be in debt; continue to be in debt.
  • To own; acknowledge; confess.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. be obliged to pay or repay
  • v. be indebted to, in an abstract or intellectual sense
  • v. be in debt


Middle English owen, from Old English āgan, to possess.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English owen, from Old English āgan, from Proto-Germanic *aiganan, from Proto-Indo-European *eik- (“ability, possession”). See also own, ought. (Wiktionary)



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