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owe it to (someone/oneself) to do something

To have an obligation or duty to do something for the sake of someone or oneself. We owe it to our parents to look after them as they get older. You need to stop worrying about work; you owe it to yourself to enjoy the weekends with your family.
See also: owe, something

pound of flesh

A debt or punishment, especially one that is cruel or unreasonable, that is harshly insisted upon. An allusion to Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, in which the moneylender Shylock demands he be paid the pound of fleshed promised as collateral for a loan. The victim of the incident, while only sustaining superficial injuries, is demanding his pound of flesh from the night club owner following the court ruling. Be very careful about taking out loans that you can't repay right away, or you will have loan sharks coming after you for a pound of flesh.
See also: flesh, of, pound

I owe you one.

Inf. Thank you, now I owe you a favor.; I owe you something similar in return. Bob: I put the extra copy of the book on your desk. Sue: Thanks, I owe you one. Bill: Let me pay for your drink. Bob: Thanks a lot, I owe you one.
See also: one, owe

owe someone a debt of gratitude

a large amount of thanks owed to someone who deserves gratitude. (Actually payment of the debt is owed.) We owe you a debt of gratitude for all you have done for us.
See also: debt, of, owe

owe something (to someone) (for something)

to be under obligation to pay or repay someone for something. I owe forty dollars to Ann for the dinner. I owe money for the gift to Ann. I still owe money for the gift. Do you still owe money to Ann?

*pound of flesh

Fig. a payment or punishment that involves suffering and sacrifice on the part of the person being punished. (*Typically: give someone ~; owe someone ~; pay someone ~; take ~.) He wants revenge. He won't be satisfied until he takes his pound of flesh.
See also: flesh, of, pound

pound of flesh

A debt whose payment is harshly insisted on, as in The other members of the cartel all want their pound of flesh from Brazil. This expression alludes to the scene in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice (4:1) where the moneylender Shylock demands the pound of flesh promised him in payment for a loan, and Portia responds that he may have it but without an ounce of blood (since blood was not promised). [c. 1600]
See also: flesh, of, pound

think something/someone owes you a living

If someone thinks someone or something owes them a living, they think that person or thing should give them the money they need to live. Nobody owes you a living — you need to work hard for yourself. He was given everything, and grew up thinking the world owes him a living.
See also: living, owe, something, think

owe someone one

If you owe someone one, you feel very grateful to them for something they have done for you. `I've got the engine going again.' `Thanks, mate — I owe you one!'
See also: one, owe

owe someone one

feel indebted to someone. informal
1990 Paul Auster The Music of Chance ‘I guess I owe you one,’ Floyd said, patting Nashe's back in an awkward show of gratitude.
See also: one, owe

someone or something owes you a living

used to express disapproval of someone who expects to receive financial support or other benefits without doing any work.
See also: living, owe, something

(think) the world ˌowes you a ˈliving

(disapproving) (think that) society is responsible for doing everything for you and you should not have to make any effort yourself: Why don’t you go out and get a job? The world doesn’t owe you a living, you know.
See also: living, owe, world

owe to

1. To be in debt by some amount to someone: I owe $100 to my brother.
2. To have something because of something or someone else: The family owed its wealth to oil. I owe my rosy complexion to my mother.
See also: owe
References in periodicals archive ?
Little Kiribati, a nation of islands in the Pacific, owes just $15 million to international creditors.
Assuming Brian paid all of the mortgage interest and real estate taxes, he'd owe $13,521--$23,521 as a head of household minus the $10,000 tax credit he got for adopting Jacob.
A further seven per cent of people are in debt to their families to the tune of pounds 150, and six per cent owe friends about pounds 71.
Calculate how much your car is worth and how much you owe on it.
Most of all, we owe them our mourning, our admiration and our gratitude.
The hotel's owners, European American Lodging, currently owe $2.
In total there are 13 TDs or senators who owe the Dail restaurant more than EUR1,000.
The more you owe, the longer you can expect the government to process your application.
Taxpayers who owe state taxes for years 2002 and prior need to take advantage of tax amnesty that runs from February 1 through March 31, 2005.
This only means that the firm you owe has changed but the amount you owe remains the same.
As an H&R Block agent pored over his financial papers, the fiber-optics tester said he likely would owe money on his taxes this year.
You cannot be forced to pay any amount greater than the debt you owe (outside of late penalties and interest), unless allowed by law.
Commenting on the greater number of properties that owe smaller amounts of money, Spinola observed that when water bills are added in, a lot of the smaller and individual owners are having greater difficulty staying current.
To extend this principle not just to the employee who has a debt to the Service, but also to IRS collection efforts with regard to third parties that owe money to the U.
According to figures released by the agency, 2,995 corporations in Los Angeles County owe $65 million, while 179 businesses in Ventura County owe approximately $1.