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[pawn] /pɔn/
verb (used with object)
to deposit as security, as for money borrowed, especially with a pawnbroker:
He raised the money by pawning his watch.
to pledge; stake; risk:
to pawn one's life.
the state of being deposited or held as security, especially with or by a pawnbroker:
jewels in pawn.
something given or deposited as security, as for money borrowed.
a person serving as security; hostage.
the act of pawning.
Origin of pawn1
1490-1500; (noun) < Middle French pan; Old French pan(d), pant, apparently < West Germanic; compare Old Frisian pand, Old Saxon, Middle Dutch pant, German Pfand; (v.) derivative of the noun
Related forms
pawnable, adjective
[paw-ner] /ˈpɔ nər/ (Show IPA),
[paw-ner, -nawr] /ˈpɔ nər, -nɔr/ (Show IPA),
unpawned, adjective
4. pledge. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for pawned
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The men whose watches were not pawned looked to see the time.

    One Man's View Leonard Merrick
  • In half an hour my watch was pawned, and the affair concluded.

    The Stark Munro Letters J. Stark Munro
  • I pawned all our jewellery, and as we had a great many valuable things, I got several thousand francs.

  • He pawned a snake-shaped ring, and they identified this Walenn by it.

    The First and The Last John Galsworthy
  • But an hour since I heard that he had pawned his breeches and lay in bed writing begging letters.

    His Grace of Osmonde Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • She pawned them on these first two occasions I've described.

    The Winning Clue James Hay, Jr.
  • It seemed that the morning he struck me for the place he had pawned his razor for fifteen cents in order to get a shave.

  • I say she pawned them, but I never had definite proof of it.

    The Winning Clue James Hay, Jr.
British Dictionary definitions for pawned


verb (transitive)
to deposit (an article) as security for the repayment of a loan, esp from a pawnbroker
to stake: to pawn one's honour
an article deposited as security
the condition of being so deposited (esp in the phrase in pawn)
a person or thing that is held as a security, esp a hostage
the act of pawning
Derived Forms
pawnage, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Old French pan security, from Latin pannus cloth, apparently because clothing was often left as a surety; compare Middle Flemish paen pawn, German Pfand pledge


a chessman of the lowest theoretical value, limited to forward moves of one square at a time with the option of two squares on its initial move: it captures with a diagonal move only P Compare piece (sense 12)
a person, group, etc, manipulated by another
Word Origin
C14: from Anglo-Norman poun, from Old French pehon, from Medieval Latin pedō infantryman, from Latin pēs foot
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for pawned



"something left as security," late 15c. (mid-12c. as Anglo-Latin pandum), from Old French pan, pant "pledge, security," also "booty, plunder," perhaps from Frankish or some other Germanic source (cf. Old High German pfant, German Pfand, Middle Dutch pant, Old Frisian pand "pledge"), from West Germanic *panda, of unknown origin.

The Old French word is identical to pan "cloth, piece of cloth," from Latin pannum (nominative pannus) "cloth, piece of cloth, garment" and Klein's sources feel this is the source of both the Old French and West Germanic words (perhaps on the notion of cloth used as a medium of exchange).

lowly chess piece, late 14c., from Anglo-French poun, Old French peon, earlier pehon, from Medieval Latin pedonem "foot soldier," from Late Latin pedonem (nominative pedo) "one going on foot," from Latin pes (genitive pedis) "foot" (see foot (n.)). The chess sense was in Old French by 13c. Figurative use, of persons, is from 1580s.


"to give (something) as security in exchange for," 1560s, from pawn (n.1). Related: Pawned; pawning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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