Definition of “owe” - English Dictionary

“owe” in British English

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oweverb [ T ]

uk /əʊ/ us //

owe verb [ T ] (HAVE DEBTS)

B1 to need to pay or give something to someone because they have lent money to you, or in exchange for something they have done for you:

[ + two objects ] I owe Janet $50.
We still owe $1,000 on our car (= we still need to pay $1,000 before we own our car).
I owe you a drink for helping me move.
I think you owe (= should give) me an explanation/apology.
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More examples

  • "As I recall, " he said with some irritation, "you still owe me £150."
  • It's just struck me that I still owe you for the concert tickets.
  • It'll be difficult to sort out how much each person owes.
  • He'd better pay me back that money he owes me soon, or else.
  • I owe you an apology - I'm afraid I forgot to send Amanda that report.

(Definition of “owe” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

“owe” in American English

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oweverb

us //

owe verb (HAVE A DEBT)

[ I/T ] to have the responsibility to pay or give back something you have received from someone:

[ T ] Don’t forget – you owe me ten dollars.

owe verb (BE GRATEFUL)

[ T ] to be grateful to someone or something because of what the person or thing provided or made possible:

I owe a lot to my parents, who have always supported and encouraged me.

(Definition of “owe” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

“owe” in Business English

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oweverb [ T ]

uk /əʊ/ us

FINANCE, COMMERCE to need to pay or give something to someone because they have lent money to you:

owe sb $5/$500, etc. I owe you £200.
How much do we owe the bank?
He claims the firm owes him money.
owe $5/$500, etc. to sb The company owes $618 million to its creditors.
owe $100/$1000, etc. on sth We still owe $1000 on our car.
owe $100/$1000, etc. in sth The government alleges that he owes $54 million in unpaid taxes.

to have had someone help you or do something good for you, so that you should do something similar for them:

He owes you a favor for helping him with the project.
owe sb (one) Thanks - I owe you one!

(Definition of “owe” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)