There's a use of the word "ought" from the Bible I don't understand.

I've highlighted the relevant word:

Acts 4:32
And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
King James Version

I've checked dictionaries and I can't find a meaning of "ought" that makes sense to me within this passage.

2 Answers 2


'Ought' is an archaic spelling of 'aught', which is another old word meaning 'anything' or 'any'.

So the meaning is:

None of the believers considered that any of the things they owned were theirs.

This is born out by more modern translations of the passage. E.g.

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. (New International Version).

  • Ah, thank you, that makes more sense than the meaning of "aught" I found, to own or possess.
    – Zebrafish
    Mar 9, 2019 at 4:35
  • 1
    Yes, the word survives in Northern English dialects as "owt" as in "'Ast tha got owt t'eat, son?" (in Standard English "Do you have any food my boy?").
    – BoldBen
    Mar 9, 2019 at 9:26

" ought" is old English ( Elizabethian) for Anything of moral correctness or moral error..It is used in the sense of Moral obligation. For example...when Jesus says that if you are in the temple offering your gift( offering) And you remember your brother has ought against you, to leave your offering there and go be reconciled to him. He is saying "if you remember there is a moral issue with your fellow man where you are the one who wronged him/her, ...to have done something immoral to them it is your moral obligation before God to correct your error. To offer repentance, reconciliation and Rehabilitation..to be reconciled... for what sense does it make for you to want reconciliation with God for your errors, but yet not offer reconciliation with someone you have wronged? Ought means anything that is of moral obligation...that it is of your moral obligation.

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