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[bor-oh, bawr-oh] /ˈbɒr oʊ, ˈbɔr oʊ/
verb (used with object)
to take or obtain with the promise to return the same or an equivalent:
Our neighbor borrowed my lawn mower.
to use, appropriate, or introduce from another source or from a foreign source:
to borrow an idea from the opposition; to borrow a word from French.
Arithmetic. (in subtraction) to take from one denomination and add to the next lower.
verb (used without object)
to borrow something:
Don't borrow unless you intend to repay.
  1. to sail close to the wind; luff.
  2. to sail close to the shore.
Golf. to putt on other than a direct line from the lie of the ball to the hole, to compensate for the incline or roll of the green.
borrow trouble, to do something that is unnecessary and may cause future harm or inconvenience.
Origin of borrow
before 900; Middle English borowen, Old English borgian to borrow, lend, derivative of borg a pledge; akin to Dutch borg a pledge, borgen to charge, give credit, German Borg credit, borgen to take on credit
Related forms
borrowable, adjective
borrower, noun
nonborrowed, adjective
nonborrower, noun
overborrow, verb
unborrowed, adjective
Can be confused
borrow, lend, loan (see usage note at loan)
2. acquire, take, get; copy, pirate, plagiarize. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for borrower
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Youve confessed to us that you thought you were in a bad hole, which is a poor argument for a borrower to bring forward.

    Sudden Jim Clarence Budington Kelland
  • That he was a borrower proved that he had nothing which could form a property security.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • So far as the borrower is concerned, these mortgages are no different from any other similar method of financing.

    If You're Going to Live in the Country Thomas H. Ormsbee and Richmond Huntley
  • This proverb does not confine the evil to the borrower like the proverb, "The borrower is servant to the lender."

    Usury Calvin Elliott
  • The granting of credit is an exchange of the rights of the creditor for rights to the future income of the borrower.

    The Value of Money Benjamin M. Anderson, Jr.
British Dictionary definitions for borrower


to obtain or receive (something, such as money) on loan for temporary use, intending to give it, or something equivalent or identical, back to the lender
to adopt (ideas, words, etc) from another source; appropriate
(not standard) to lend
(golf) to putt the ball uphill of the direct path to the hole
(intransitive) (golf) (of a ball) to deviate from a straight path because of the slope of the ground
(golf) a deviation of a ball from a straight path because of the slope of the ground: a left borrow
material dug from a borrow pit to provide fill at another
living on borrowed time
  1. living an unexpected extension of life
  2. close to death
Derived Forms
borrower, noun
Usage note
The use of off after borrow was formerly considered incorrect, but is now acceptable in informal contexts
Word Origin
Old English borgian; related to Old High German borgēn to take heed, give security


George (Henry). 1803–81, English traveller and writer. His best-known works are the semiautobiographical novels of Gypsy life and language, Lavengro (1851) and its sequel The Romany Rye (1857)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for borrower



Old English borgian "to lend, be surety for," from Proto-Germanic *borg "pledge" (cf. Old English borg "pledge, security, bail, debt," Old Norse borga "to become bail for, guarantee," Middle Dutch borghen "to protect, guarantee," Old High German boragen "to beware of," German borgen "to borrow; to lend"), from PIE *bhergh- "to hide, protect" (see bury). Sense shifted in Old English to "borrow," apparently on the notion of collateral deposited as security for something borrowed. Related: Borrowed; borrowing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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borrower in the Bible

The Israelites "borrowed" from the Egyptians (Ex. 12:35, R.V., "asked") in accordance with a divine command (3:22; 11:2). But the word (sha'al) so rendered here means simply and always to "request" or "demand." The Hebrew had another word which is properly translated "borrow" in Deut. 28:12; Ps. 37:21. It was well known that the parting was final. The Egyptians were so anxious to get the Israelites away out of their land that "they let them have what they asked" (Ex. 12:36, R.V.), or literally "made them to ask," urged them to take whatever they desired and depart. (See LOAN.)

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Idioms and Phrases with borrower


In addition to the idiom beginning with
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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