In such cases, "borrow" doesn't fit, as it implies intent to return, nor does "steal", which indicates lack of permission. "take" seems too general.

As a concrete example: "Hey, can I [verb] some painkillers?"

  • 3
    Have would fit the request.
    – Andrew Leach
    Nov 25, 2014 at 11:23
  • "Hey, do you have any painkillers to spare?", followed by "I owe you one, thank you!".
    – jxh
    Nov 26, 2014 at 3:38

3 Answers 3


As Andrew writes in his comment, the most natural choice would probably be have. I’m not sure why you think take is too general, either: it accurately describes what happens.

Another option you might consider, though it is quite colloquial, would be snatch:

Man, I’ve got a splittin’ headache … all right with you if I snatch a couple of painkillers from your stash?

Snatch usually means ‘steal’, but it is frequently used in colloquial speech to refer to taking something (with no intention of giving it back), but without any reference to whether you’ve obtained permission or not.

Of course, in the context of your example, logic and normal expectations would override almost any verb, and even borrow could be used without anyone think that the headache-ridden would ever intend or be expected to actually give back the painkillers after they’d passed through his system.

  • 2
    And of course, the sufferer might return the favour, so borrow could still be useful (but it wouldn't be the same tablets).
    – Andrew Leach
    Nov 25, 2014 at 11:33
  • Mostly I'm trying to preempt snarky "borrow? what, are you going to give them back?" comments. Nov 25, 2014 at 11:39
  • In that case, if you want to remain neutral and not overly colloquial or slangy, just go with take or have. The simplest solution is often the easiest, and there’s no need, really, for the verb to unambiguously specify both that you’re taking the pills with permission and that you don’t intend to return them. Both would be naturally inferred unless you use a verb that specifically overrides either. (And if you’d just gone and taken some without bothering to come on here and ask, your headache would be gone by now. :-þ) Nov 25, 2014 at 11:41
  • It isn't clear whether an element of deception is involved here which would possibly inform the term chosen.
    – user98990
    Nov 25, 2014 at 11:45

You could say, "Hey, can you spare a couple aspirin?" You're really asking for a FAVOR, not a loan.


I believe the answer you're seeking is "mooch"

verb (used with object)

  1. to borrow (a small item or amount) without intending to return or repay it.
  2. to get or take without paying or at another's expense; sponge: He always mooches cigarettes.
  3. to beg.
  4. to steal.
  • 1
    Hi, welcome to EL&U! This is a great first answer. Is the definition yours? If not, it would be even better if you could include a citation for and link to the source. Nothing fancy, just, say, "M-W" if it's Merriam-Webster or "Oxford Dictionaries" etc. with a link to the particular definition. You can use the edit link right below your answer to make any desired changes.
    – 1006a
    May 22, 2017 at 19:17

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