owe

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Pronunciation[change]

Verb[change]

Plain form
owe

Third-person singular
owes

Past tense
owed

Past participle
owed

Present participle
owing

  1. If you owe something you need to pay or give it to someone because of something you have been given. For example, if I ask to borrow five dollars for lunch from a friend, then I will owe that friend five dollars. It could also be something you agree to pay (like a bill) or something you lost gambling.
    I owe $50 to the phone company right now.
    Just remember, you owe me five dollars for the lunch I bought you.
    I owe John for giving me a ride home last night. (Used to mean I owe kindness in return for kindness, not that I owe money.)
    I owe you a shirt since I ruined one of yours.
  2. If you owe a person, there is something you need to pay or give to that person. That is, you owe something to that person.
    Thanks for the help! I really owe you for that!
  3. If you owe a lot to someone or something, you have something to thank that person (or thing) for.
    We owe as much to good luck as to our own skills.
    We owe a debt of gratitude to those who started this organization.
    Most people don't know how much they owe their parents.
    I would have died if you had not pulled me from the water -- I owe you my life.
  4. If something owes to something else, what it owes to is what caused or the reason for doing it.
    Much of the success of early rock music owed to the ability of teenagers to buy records.
    Owing to the fact that I will be absent tomorrow I must do extra work today.


See also[change]