1. be obliged to pay or repay
2. be indebted to, in an abstract or intellectual sense
; - Example: "This new theory owes much to Einstein's Relativity Theory"
3. be in debt
; - Example: "She owes me $200"- Example: "I still owe for the car"- Example: "The thesis owes much to his adviser"
The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Owe \Owe\ ([=o]), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Owed ([=o]d), (Ought
([add]t) obs.); p. pr. & vb. n. Owing ([=o]"[i^]ng).] [OE.
owen, awen, aghen, to have, own, have (to do), hence, owe,
AS. [=a]gan to have; akin to G. eigen, a., own, Icel. eiga to
have, Dan. eie, Sw. [aum]ga, Goth. ['a]igan, Skr. [imac][,c].
[root]110. Cf. Ought, v., 2d Own, Fraught.]
1. To possess; to have, as the rightful owner; to own. [Obs.]
Thou dost here usurp
The name thou ow'st not. --Shak.
2. To have or possess, as something derived or bestowed; to
be obliged to ascribe (something to some source); to be
indebted or obliged for; as, he owed his wealth to his
father; he owed his victory to his lieutenants. --Milton.
O deem thy fall not owed to man's decree. --Pope.
3. Hence: To have or be under an obigation to restore, pay,
or render (something) in return or compensation for
something received; to be indebted in the sum of; as, the
subject owes allegiance; the fortunate owe assistance to
The one ought five hundred pence, and the other
A son owes help and honor to his father. --Holyday.
Note: Owe was sometimes followed by an objective clause
introduced by the infinitive. "Ye owen to incline and
bow your heart." --Chaucer.
4. To have an obligation to (some one) on account of
something done or received; to be indebted to; as, to owe
the grocer for supplies, or a laborer for services.
WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006):
v 1: be obliged to pay or repay
2: be indebted to, in an abstract or intellectual sense; "This
new theory owes much to Einstein's Relativity Theory"
3: be in debt; "She owes me $200"; "I still owe for the car";
"The thesis owes much to his adviser"
The Devil's Dictionary (1881-1906):
OWE, v. To have (and to hold) a debt. The word formerly signified
not indebtedness, but possession; it meant "own," and in the minds of
debtors there is still a good deal of confusion between assets and