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owe

[oh] /oʊ/
verb (used with object), owed, owing.
1.
to be under obligation to pay or repay:
to owe money to the bank; to owe the bank interest on a mortgage.
2.
to be in debt to:
He says he doesn't owe anybody.
3.
to be indebted (to) as the cause or source of:
to owe one's fame to good fortune.
4.
to have or bear (a feeling or attitude) toward someone or something:
to owe gratitude to one's rescuers.
5.
Obsolete. to possess; own.
verb (used without object), owed, owing.
6.
to be in debt:
Neither lend nor owe. Who owes for the antipasto?
Origin
900
before 900; Middle English owen to possess, be under obligation, have to pay; Old English āgan to possess; cognate with Old High German eigan, Old Norse eiga. See own, ought1
Can be confused
O, oh, owe.
ode, owed.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for owe
  • As such, researchers owe it to those footing the bill to publish their work.
  • Public-health authorities owe citizens unspun information and a measure of respect.
  • We owe it to them to prepare for higher temperatures and changed weather-and to avoid compounding the damage.
  • Programs that permit the donation of good, unused drugs to the needy owe their existence to the lobbying by families of patients.
  • Winners must sign an affidavit and license and will be responsible for paying any taxes they may owe on a prize.
  • The amount you owe is instantly transferred from your bank account.
  • With home prices tumbling, millions of people owe more on their mortgages than the houses are worth.
  • But focusing on how much our students owe without balancing it with what our students earn is a potential problem for us.
  • Basically, if you're rich, you owe part of that wealth to the society you thrived in.
  • If so, life may ultimately owe its origins to our serendipitously large moon.
British Dictionary definitions for owe

owe

/əʊ/
verb (mainly transitive)
1.
to be under an obligation to pay (someone) to the amount of
2.
(intransitive) to be in debt: he still owes for his house
3.
(often foll by to) to have as a result (of): he owes his success to chance
4.
to feel the need or obligation to do, give, etc: to owe somebody thanks, to owe it to oneself to rest
5.
to hold or maintain in the mind or heart (esp in the phrase owe a grudge)
Word Origin
Old English āgan to have (C12: to have to); related to Old Saxon ēgan, Old High German eigan
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 owe
v.

Old English agan (past tense ahte) "to have, own," from Proto-Germanic *aiganan "to possess" (cf. Old Frisian aga, Old Norse eiga, Old High German eigan, Gothic aigan "to possess, have"), from PIE *aik- "to be master of, possess" (cf. Sanskrit ise "he owns," isah "owner, lord, ruler;" Avestan is- "riches," isvan- "well-off, rich").

Sense of "to have to repay" began in late Old English with the phrase agan to geldanne literally "to own to yield," which was used to translate Latin debere (earlier in Old English this would have been sceal "shall"); by late 12c. the phrase had been shortened to simply agan, and own (v.) took over this word's original sense.

An original Germanic preterite-present verb (cf. can, dare, may, etc.). New past tense form owed arose 15c. to replace oughte, which developed into ought (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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