owe - definition and synonyms

verb [transitive] 

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present tense
present participleowing
past tenseowed
past participleowed
  1. 1
    if you owe someone money, you have to give them a particular amount of money because you have bought something from them or have borrowed money from them. Money that you owe is called a debt

    Tell me how much I owe, and I’ll give it to you.

    owe someone something:

    Pam still owes me £5.

    owe someone something for something:

    How much do we owe you for the tickets?

    owe something to someone:

    The companies owe as much as £200 billion to foreign lenders.

  2. 2
    to think you should treat someone in a particular way
    owe someone something:

    She feels she owes her fans another concert.

    After the way she’s treated him, he doesn’t owe her anything.

    owe it to someone to do something:

    They owe it to their children to try to save the marriage.

    owe it to yourself to do something:

    I think you owe it to yourself to have a day off work.

    1. a.
      used about feelings that you should have about someone

      I think you owe us at least a little respect.

    2. b.
      used about things that you should say to someone
      owe someone an apology/explanation:

      Don’t you think you owe her an apology for the way you’ve behaved?

    3. c.
      used about things that you should give to someone

      I think we owe them a letter.

  3. 3
    to have something only because someone or something has helped you
    owe something to someone/something:

    The company owes its success to its excellent training programme.

    owe much/a lot/a great deal to someone/something:

    The cathedral clearly owes a great deal to French design.

  4. 4
    to feel grateful to someone because of the way that they have helped you
    owe someone something:

    We really owe you a great deal for all your hard work this year.