verb (used with object)

  1. to take or obtain with the promise to return the same or an equivalent: Our neighbor borrowed my lawn mower.
  2. to use, appropriate, or introduce from another source or from a foreign source: to borrow an idea from the opposition; to borrow a word from French.
  3. Arithmetic. (in subtraction) to take from one denomination and add to the next lower.

verb (used without object)

  1. to borrow something: Don’t borrow unless you intend to repay.
  2. Nautical.
    1. to sail close to the wind; luff.
    2. to sail close to the shore.
  3. Golf. to putt on other than a direct line from the lie of the ball to the hole, to compensate for the incline or roll of the green.


  1. borrow trouble, to do something that is unnecessary and may cause future harm or inconvenience.


  1. to obtain or receive (something, such as money) on loan for temporary use, intending to give it, or something equivalent or identical, back to the lender
  2. to adopt (ideas, words, etc) from another source; appropriate
  3. not standard to lend
  4. golf to putt the ball uphill of the direct path to the hole
  5. (intr) golf (of a ball) to deviate from a straight path because of the slope of the ground


  1. golf a deviation of a ball from a straight path because of the slope of the grounda left borrow
  2. material dug from a borrow pit to provide fill at another
  3. living on borrowed time
    1. living an unexpected extension of life
    2. close to death


  1. George (Henry). 1803–81, English traveller and writer. His best-known works are the semiautobiographical novels of Gypsy life and language, Lavengro (1851) and its sequel The Romany Rye (1857)

v.Old English borgian “to lend, be surety for,” from Proto-Germanic *borg “pledge” (cf. Old English borg “pledge, security, bail, debt,” Old Norse borga “to become bail for, guarantee,” Middle Dutch borghen “to protect, guarantee,” Old High German boragen “to beware of,” German borgen “to borrow; to lend”), from PIE *bhergh- “to hide, protect” (see bury). Sense shifted in Old English to “borrow,” apparently on the notion of collateral deposited as security for something borrowed. Related: Borrowed; borrowing. In addition to the idiom beginning with borrow

  • borrow trouble
  • also see:

  • beg, borrow, or steal
  • on borrowed time
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