Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Language: Old English
Origin: agan

owe

verb
     
owe S2 W3 [transitive]
1

money

to need to pay someone for something that they have done for you or sold to you, or to need to give someone back money that they have lent you [↪ borrow, lend]
owe somebody money/£10 etc
I owe my brother $50.
owe somebody for something
I still owe you for the taxi.
How much do I owe you (=often used to show that you want to pay for something)?
owe something to somebody
the money owed to credit card companies
2

something done/given

to feel that you should do something for someone or give someone something, because they have done something for you or given something to you:
He asked for help from a colleague who owed him a favour.
owe somebody a drink/letter etc
I owe Shaun a letter; I must write soon.
Thanks a lot for being so understanding about all this - I owe you one (=used to thank someone who has helped you, and to say that you are willing to help them in the future)!
owe somebody (=be in a position in which someone has helped you, so that you should help them)
Let's go and see Joe - he owes me!
3

owe somebody an explanation/apology

to feel that you should give someone an explanation of why you did something, or say you are sorry:
You owe him an apology.
4

help to achieve something

a) to have something or achieve something because of what someone else has done
owe something to somebody
He probably owes his life to her prompt action.
b) to know that someone's help has been important to you in achieving something
owe somebody a lot/owe somebody a great deal
'I owe my parents a lot,' he admitted.
He owes a great deal to his publishers.
owe somebody a debt (of gratitude)
the debt that we owe to our teachers
5

good effect

to be successful because of the good effect or influence of something or someone
owe to
Their success owes more to good luck than to careful management.
Pearson's work owed much to the research of his friend, Hugh Kingsmill.
6

owe it to somebody to do something

to feel you should do something for someone, because they have helped you or given you support:
You owe it to your supporters not to give up now.
7

owe it to yourself to do something

to feel you should try to achieve something because it is what you deserve:
You owe it to yourself to take some time off.
8

owe loyalty/allegiance etc to somebody

to have a duty to obey someone:
provinces owing allegiance to the Emperor
9

think that the world owes you a living

to be unwilling to work in order to get things, and expect them to be provided for you - used to show disapproval

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