My Webster's New world Dictionary does not contain the word "loaned" at all, but my Thesaurus does, and the word "lent" is the first synonym listed. My wife, who learned English as a second language and therefore often speaks it better than I do, insists "lent" is more correct than "loaned" as the past tense verb form. Which is more correct?

  • Technically speaking, though lent may be better (not 'more correct') than loaned, it is not the past tense verb 'form.' Loaned and lent have distinct present tense forms of their own. Both are conventionally acceptable in both BrE and AmE. Both are also frequently used in other geographies (by non-native English speakers.)
    – Kris
    Mar 22, 2013 at 6:53
  • "Proceeds of a pooled financing issue reasonably expected to be used to finance purpose investments qualify for a temporary period of 6 months while held by the issuer before being loaned to a conduit borrower." books.google.com/…
    – Kris
    Mar 22, 2013 at 6:58
  • "John just loaned a book to Mary. John owns the book. John just loaned a book to Mary. John has the book. Possible Top Sentences Mary just loaned a book to John. John just loaned a book to Mary. Mary just borrowed a book ..." books.google.com/…
    – Kris
    Mar 22, 2013 at 6:59

3 Answers 3


They are two different verbs: "to lend" is conjugated "lend, lent, have lent", and "to loan" is conjugated "loan, loaned, have loaned".

According to Merriam-Webster, the verb to loan has died out in the U.K. This is corroborated by Google Ngrams, although it now appears to have been reintroduced from AmE. Thus, for BrE, your wife is correct. For AmE, both lent and loaned are fine.

  • 6
    The wife is quite pleased with your explaination, Peter. Thank you!
    – user40044
    Mar 21, 2013 at 18:16
  • 5
    The Merriam-Webster article does seem to indicate that loan had died out in the UK, but that it had come back more than a century ago. I've certainly known the word as British English my whole life. I dare say you'd want stronger evidence that it had died out entirely - I'd bet on a few pockets of resistance! So for Br.En his wife is correct that lent is a stronger choice, but both are fine. Mar 21, 2013 at 21:08
  • 1
    Since it died out in BrE and then came back from AmE, you could almost say in BrE that it is a "loanword" from AmE...
    – Ben Lee
    Mar 22, 2013 at 18:36
  • Just an aside and probably just a typo, but "explanation" is spelled with only one "i." Apr 18, 2017 at 10:08

There is a difference in usage: a book is lent by a friend but loaned by a library, even if it is a lending library. I think loaned is preferred in the more formal contractual setting.


During the 1950s and 1960s when I was a student in a private, Catholic school, "lent" would have been only used for the weeks before Easter, not in place of "loaned" in common English usage. If you did use lent, it had better be for the former reason and not the latter. Fortunately, since it was a grade school, this did not come up as a problem for us students because we couldn't yet write as well as high school and college students, but, of course, we were taught the "correct" usage of terms and there was no room for the evolution of the language.

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    What is the past participle of lend, then? I could have lent you a pen, although I might have loaned you some money.
    – Andrew Leach
    Dec 29, 2014 at 13:34
  • 1
    My experience in the 1950s and 1960s was the exact opposite. The approved verb was "lend"; "loan" was supposed to be only a noun. Dec 29, 2014 at 17:12

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