See also: Borrow



Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English borwen, borȝien, Old English borgian (to borrow, lend, pledge surety for), from Proto-Germanic *burgōną (to pledge, take care of), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰergʰ- (to take care). Cognate with Dutch borgen (to borrow, trust), German borgen (to borrow, lend), Danish borge (to vouch). Related to Old English beorgan (to save, preserve). More at bury.

Alternative formsEdit

  • boro (Jamaican English)


borrow (third-person singular simple present borrows, present participle borrowing, simple past and past participle borrowed)

  1. To receive (something) from somebody temporarily, expecting to return it.
    • 2013 June 1, “End of the peer show”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8838, page 71:
      Finance is seldom romantic. But the idea of peer-to-peer lending comes close. This is an industry that brings together individual savers and lenders on online platforms. Those that want to borrow are matched with those that want to lend.
  2. To take money from a bank under the agreement that the bank will be paid over the course of time.
  3. To adopt (an idea) as one's own.
    to borrow the style, manner, or opinions of another
    • 1649, J[ohn] Milton, ΕΙΚΟΝΟΚΛΆΣΤΗΣ [EIKONOKLASTES] [], London: [] Matthew Simmons, [], OCLC 1044608640:
      It is not hard for any man, who hath a Bible in his hands, to borrow good words and holy sayings in abundance; but to make them his own is a work of grace only from above.
    • 1881, William Minto and Margaret Bryant, “John Dryden”, in Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition:
      Dryden’s form is of course borrowed from the ancients
  4. (linguistics) To adopt a word from another language.
  5. (arithmetic) In a subtraction, to deduct (one) from a digit of the minuend and add ten to the following digit, in order that the subtraction of a larger digit in the subtrahend from the digit in the minuend to which ten is added gives a positive result.
  6. (Upper Midwestern United States, West Midlands, Malaysia, proscribed) To lend.
    • 1951, The Grenadiers, James P. Leary, editor, Wisconsin Folklore, University of Wisconsin Press, published 1998, →ISBN, Milwaukee Talk, page 56:
      “Rosie, borrow me your look looker, I bet my lips are all. Everytime I eat or drink, so quick I gotta fix ’em, yet.”
    • 1996, Beverley Harper, Storms Over Africa:
      Samson, with all the cunning of a rhetorical master, cornered him. 'Then can my young son borrow me his old rifle?'
    • 1999, Sarah Curtis, Children who Break the Law, Or, Everybody Does it, page 21:
      In a bank they borrow you the money at very low rates and if you don't take it back, you suffer the consequences in a jail sentence and there's a certain procedure it goes through.
    • 1999, Marie Hall Ets, Rosa: The Life of an Italian Immigrant, page 233:
      The next week she came back and she said to me and my husband, "If I borrow you the money to buy a little house do you think you can pay me back like rent?"
    • 2005, Gladys Blyth, Summer at the Cannery, Trafford Publishing, →ISBN, page 83:
      “Ryan, borrow me your lunch pail so we can fill it with blueberries. Susie can make us a pie.”
    • 2006, Andrés Rueda, The Clawback, Andres Rueda, →ISBN, Chapter 13, page 131:
      Georgi reached for his empty pockets. “Can you borrow me your telephone?”
    • 2007, Silvia Cecchini, Bach Flowers Fairytales,, →ISBN, page 7:
      “Gaia, could you borrow me your pencils ,[sic] today, if you do not use them?”
  7. (double transitive) To temporarily obtain (something) for (someone).
    • 1623, William Shakespeare, As You Like It:
      You must borrow me Garagantua's mouth first: 'tis a word too great for any mouth of this age's size: To say, ay, and no, to these particulars, is more than to answer in a catechism.
    • 1681, quoting Mr. Normanton, “Trial of Sir Miles Stapleton”, in State Trials, 33 Charles II, page 516:
      Yes, my lord, he told me this in my own house; and I told him he might go to esquire Tindal, and I lent him eighteen pence, and borrowed him a horse in the town.
    • 1866 April 20, Charles W. G. Howard, “Minutes of Evidence Taken Before the Select Committee”, in parliamentary debates (House of Commons), page 84:
      I went out and borrowed him a night cap; put him my night shirt on, and wrapped him in a blanket.
    • 1999 August 1, “Ronnie Dawson, Singer, Comments on his Career and Music”, in NPR_Weekend:
      My folks couldn't afford a guitar, so my dad borrowed me a mandolin one time, and I was just learning to play it pretty good and the guy that he borrowed it from wanted it back.
    • 2006, Laurie Graham, Gone with the Windsors, page 116:
      George Lightfoot seemed to have forgotten he was meant to be a Lost Sheep, and turned up as the Tin Man, but I forgave him, because he'd managed to borrow me a divine brass crazier from one of his bishop friends.
  8. To feign or counterfeit.
  9. (obsolete except in ballads) To secure the release of (someone) from prison.
    • Traditional, "Young Beichan" (Child ballad 53)
      But if ony maiden would borrow me,
      I would wed her wi' a ring,
      And a' my land and a' my houses,
      They should a' be at her command.
  10. (informal) To receive (something) from somebody, with little possibility of returning it.
    Can I borrow a sheet of paper?
  • (receive temporarily): give back (exchanging the transfer of ownership), lend (exchanging the owners), return (exchanging the transfer of ownership)
  • (in arithmetic): carry (the equivalent reverse procedure in the inverse operation of addition)
Derived termsEdit


borrow (plural borrows)

  1. (golf) Deviation of the path of a rolling ball from a straight line; slope; slant.
    This putt has a big left-to right borrow on it.
  2. (construction, civil engineering) A borrow pit.
    • 1979, The Canadian Mining and Metallurgical Bulletin
      As previously indicated, slurry used for construction of the slurry cutoff trench at Beaver Creek Dam was produced with natural clays and clay tills from local borrows.
  3. (programming) In the Rust programming language, the situation where the ownership of a value is temporarily transferred to another region of code.
    • 2018, Daniel Arbuckle, Rust Quick Start Guide:
      If we currently have any borrows of a value, we can't mutably borrow it into self, nor can we move it (because that would invalidate the existing borrows).

Etymology 2Edit

From Middle English borwe, borgh, from Old English borh, borg, from Proto-Germanic *burgōną (to borrow, lend) (related to Etymology 1, above).


borrow (plural borrows)

  1. (archaic) A ransom; a pledge or guarantee.
  2. (archaic) A surety; someone standing bail.
    • 1819, Walter Scott, Ivanhoe:
      ”where am I to find such a sum? If I sell the very pyx and candlesticks on the altar at Jorvaulx, I shall scarce raise the half; and it will be necessary for that purpose that I go to Jorvaulx myself; ye may retain as borrows my two priests.”