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I want to know what is the opposite of 'owe'. For example,

I owe you $10

If I want to say the opposite I have to reverse it and say,

you owe me $10

But sometimes I feel I should start with 'I' not 'you'.

Another example, if we said,

John owes Peter $100

We can say also that,

Peter xxx John $100

to mean the exact thing.

What is the proper word to replace xxx?

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  • 2
    'Peter was into John for a Benny.' But this is ambiguous (and slang). Feb 28, 2021 at 19:29
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    I’m voting to close this question; if a simple passivisation is the most upvoted answer, and 'I don't think there's a single word that expresses the opposite relationship' probably the most accurate, this does not belong on ELU. Mar 1, 2021 at 15:35
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    @EdwinAshworth - doesn’t belong to ELU? 8 answers and still users disagree. Not as simple as it appears.
    – user 66974
    Mar 1, 2021 at 19:49
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    @EdwinAshworth: Why??? "There's no such word" is a perfectly valid answer, and it's much more informative than no answer at all. Mar 2, 2021 at 7:30
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    @EdwinAshworth: I agree. "There doesn't seem to be a single word for this" strikes me as a useful fact that is worth having on this site. Mar 2, 2021 at 18:23

9 Answers 9

29

You can use the expression “be owed”:

Peter is owed $100 by John.

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    Would you say “from John” or “by John” ? The second sounds more natural to me, though that may be just me ?!?
    – k1eran
    Feb 28, 2021 at 21:58
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    @k1eran "Owed £10 by John" is much more common. So much more common that I would say that "from John" is probably incorrect.
    – BoldBen
    Feb 28, 2021 at 22:38
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    @BoldBen Interesting - I have the opposite intuition, esp. for something besides money "I am owed a letter *by/from John." Mar 1, 2021 at 17:36
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    books.google.com/ngrams/… "by" > "from" in both AmE and BrE, but closer in AmE, curious Mar 1, 2021 at 17:41
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    To my American ear, this sounds weird. I'd understand what was meant, but it sounds weird anyway. I would probably either avoid doing the inversion at all or else use a different construction like "due" or "entitled" as mentioned in other answers/comments.
    – Ian
    Mar 1, 2021 at 18:49
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I owe you $10 -> You are due $10 from me; you are owed $10 by me.

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  • I agree with @Greybeard that there should be a 'I am/ you are' due' in the answer, but I cannot make it work as yet.
    – user414952
    Mar 1, 2021 at 12:13
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    and "I am due £10 from you" works fine.
    – Anton
    Mar 1, 2021 at 13:02
  • "are due" is technically correct, but I wouldn't call it common - at least not in my midwestern vernacular.
    – Joe
    Mar 1, 2021 at 19:50
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    Are you saying "I owe you $10" is the same as "I am owed $10 by you"? If not, then it's not clear in your answer. If yes, then I would say that is incorrect. "I am owed x by you" to me means "you owe me x". Mar 1, 2021 at 21:11
  • @KodosJohnson: I think we can presume that was a typo/thinko — I’ve edited to fix it.
    – PLL
    Mar 3, 2021 at 14:24
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I don't think there's a single word that expresses the opposite relationship. But instead of describing the state, you can describe the transaction that implies this state:

Peter lent John $100

However, there could be other reasons why John owes money to Peter, such as Peter performing a service for John, and now being owed the payment, or Peter winning a lawsuit against John.

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    I was thinking “loaned” to replace “xxx” as an answer, but will leave it here as a comment instead since it is so similar: “Peter loaned John $100”.
    – OnlyF
    Mar 1, 2021 at 15:14
  • @OnlyF They're equivalent. english.stackexchange.com/questions/108109/…
    – Barmar
    Mar 1, 2021 at 15:44
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    The only issue with this is that someone can owe someone else without an initial act of lending. For instance, person A might owe person B for damages. Mar 1, 2021 at 18:51
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    @TaliesinMerlin Good point. There are also less explicit loans, such as Peter buying something on John's behalf, now John owes him the money in return for the purchase.
    – Barmar
    Mar 1, 2021 at 19:10
  • "lent" doesn't describe the current debt situation, only describing the event of lending. If you say "lent", I have no idea whether or not the debt was repaid, whereas "owes" expresses this unambiguously. Additionally "owing" doesn't necessarily only apply to scenarios where borrowing took place. If you purchase something from me and don't pay the bill, you owe me, but I didn't lend you anything. Mar 9, 2021 at 11:38
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I understand your question to mean that you wish to retain the same subject - verb - object order in the negative. I therefore suggest:

“I owe you £10” in negative form is “You owe me £10” (reverses subject/object order)

=

“I am entitled to £10 from you.” (Retains subject/object order, as you specify)

Entitled = having the right or permission to do something

“You are entitled to a refund.”

Collins

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If A owes B something, B indebts A. This is marked in the OED as a rare usage; the Oxford English Dictionary speculates that it is inferred from the adjective indebted (indebt, v.), and early examples use this as the reflexive (meaning to put oneself in a situation of debt):

Now rare.

  1. transitive. To bring under monetary obligation; to involve in debt. (In quots. reflexive.)

  2. To bring under an obligation of any kind.

Some online dictionaries (like Merriam-Webster) list the term as archaic, but others (Lexico) treat it as current:

Cause (someone) to owe money or an obligation.

‘no generation should be able to indebt future generations’

The word has been used recently in non-reflexive ways:

It is important here to ignore the origin of this gift that never seems to indebt the receiver. (Joelle Vitiello, "Friendship in the Novels of Andree Chedid," Symposium, 49.1, 1995, COCA).

For a long time, some villages refused to accept water or electricity lines, disliking the spiderweb-like intrusion into the earth (where Muy’ingwu, the germination deity, has his dwelling), and foreseeing also that this would indebt them to non-local companies, and compromise their independence. (Peter Whiteley, "The Fire Burns Yet," Aeon, 25 November 2013).

A living donor, for instance, could be motivated [...] by a desire to indebt and manipulate someone else. (Gill and Sade, in Joseph A. Stramondo, "Seeing the forest through the trees: What the radical feminist critique of prostitution can teach us about the sale of kidneys by living suppliers," *International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics, 6.1, Spring 2013)

The article describes Chinese loans as a 'cunning' device used by Beijing to indebt poor countries and gain control over their strategic assets. (Beyongo Mukete Dynamic, "China's Power in Africa: Rhetoric and Reality." Power, 2019.)

By giving her money, he indebts her. (Karen Murree, Reading Murder in Six Major American Novels, 1994.)

Thus the following usage would be acceptable, even if quirky:

Peter indebts John for $100.

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    A few examples don't confer acceptability. Mar 1, 2021 at 19:13
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    Interesting term, M-W says it is archaic. merriam-webster.com/dictionary/indebt
    – user 66974
    Mar 1, 2021 at 19:15
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    @EdwinAshworth That is three current and published examples along with a dictionary entry. How much more would be sufficient for your standard of "acceptability"? Mar 1, 2021 at 19:16
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    I'd like you to quote OED accurately, caveats and all, for a start. M-W says it is archaic, so I'd say 'Peter indebts John for $100' is quirky at best rather than 'acceptable'. OP's register is "I owe you $10". Mar 1, 2021 at 19:26
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    “Cause someone to owe” and “be owed by someone” are not the same kind of thing and this word does not fill the niche of the question. Mar 2, 2021 at 4:33
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This isn't just a problem with the word "owe." The relevant part of the sentence structure is: subject, verb, direct object. The question implies that there one can construct the opposite, i.e. direct object, verb, subject and still make sense, each a single word. I'm not a grammarian, but believe that this is not possible. John hit Peter. Peter ??? John. Etc.

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    There is the occasional exception (The Browns visited Al / Al hosted the Browns), and reciprocal verbs (Al met Ali / Ali met Al), but you're quite right that this is a strange request. Mar 1, 2021 at 17:15
  • +1 The best I can come up with is "Peter received a blow from John", which doesn't have the desired structure. Mar 1, 2021 at 21:51
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From a finance perspective:

Peter credited John $100

From https://www.britannica.com/topic/credit:

Credit, transaction between two parties in which one (the creditor or lender) supplies money, goods, services, or securities in return for a promised future payment by the other (the debtor or borrower).

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  • Your definition is of the noun. And are you saying that 'Peter credited John $100' is another way of saying 'John owed Peter $100' (which OP has requested)? Mar 2, 2021 at 19:22
  • @EdwinAshworth My goal was to replace xxx without altering the surrounding sentence. It had to be changed to a past-tense verb because Peter credit John $100 does not sound right.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Mar 2, 2021 at 19:48
  • But 'Peter credited John $100' sounds unnatural to my British ears. It may be better in the US, but it certainly doesn't mean exactly the same as 'John owed/s Peter $100'. It may be a debt being repaid by Peter. Mar 3, 2021 at 11:38
  • 'Sounds like' John could have received a gift from Peter. This do not imply there was a debt,
    – user414952
    Mar 3, 2021 at 14:34
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    This won't do. If John owes Peter, John is under an obligation to repay Peter (I paraphrased the definition in Chambers, there). The repayment hasn't happened yet. "Peter credited John some money" implies that Peter gave John some money rather than vice versa, and that the payment has already happened, and fails to imply an obligation to repay in the future.
    – Rosie F
    Mar 3, 2021 at 16:37
3

I am 'due' one-hundred dollars means that someone 'owes' you the money.

3

"is indebted to" e.g. Peter is indebted to John for $100

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  • The question was asking for a single word and indebts has already been given as an answer. Mar 2, 2021 at 7:28
  • @KillingTime This is the most idiomatic way to say what the OP wants. The fact that it is not one word is too bad for him (we can't change the way the language works). He doesn't specifically request a single word except for using the question tag, rather implicitly assumes there is one. The "indebts" answer is slightly ridiculous and unrelated to this one. Mar 9, 2021 at 11:51

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