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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 owes
  • Initially a forest reserve, the park also owes its existence in part to wildlife.
  • Rico owes much of its early success to a lottery ticket.
  • They were insufferable, but the church owes them a great debt.
  • In fact, each of the endless varieties of cheese owes its distinctive taste to the bacteria it contains.
  • In that regard, modern science owes a lot to questions of the soul.
  • Opium which is extracted from the seeds of the poppy plant owes its properties to one dominant molecule- morphine.
  • There are some poets who are so arrogant that they think the publishing world owes them something.
  • But generally the only legal obligation the university owes you is not to discriminate based on disallowed categories.
  • But this relation, to which our subject owes its importance, is responsible also for the deficiencies in the work before us.
  • He who boasts of his descent boasts of that which he owes to others.
British Dictionary definitions for owes

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 owes

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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