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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 ?
Caterers Baxter Storey are owed almost PS400,000 and Bus Business PS100,000.
Landlords were reportedly owed a further PS9m, while the taxman was owed PS2.
The sportswear group, which owed PS210m to unsecured creditors, went into administration last month, leading to 133 stores closing and the loss of 2,200 jobs.
One creditor, bricklayer Ian Lewis, of Wolverhampton, who is owed pounds 82,032, said the William Ashley collapse had cost him his marriage.
Bannes Gate Ltd, of Halesowen, was owed pounds 43,933; Buildbase, of Cradley Heath, was left with a debt of pounds 40,799; Central Scaffolding, of Wednesbury, was owed pounds 51,039; and Countrywide Electrical, of Summer Lane, Birmingham, was owed pounds 74,589.
An Offer in Compromise (Form 656) is an agreement with the IRS that lets you resolve your tax bill for less than you owe; the general rule is at least 14% of the amount owed must be paid.
But the differences stem from interpretations of Proposition 98, and whether funds that were suspended in one year should be included in the ongoing calculation of the base amount of what is owed in future years.
The proprietor of the Signal Box Cafe on Stanhope railway station is owed pounds 416 for refreshments provided during the "Santa Special" trains which ran over the Christmas holidays.
Newcastle City Council is owed more than pounds 10 million, and in the past year has evicted 151 people.
M pursued administrative appeals, arguing that he owed the government no money, because the Service did not move to enforce the settlement agreement.
The state's tax gap, the difference between taxes paid and owed, is estimated to cost California $6.
The vast majority of this money is owed through mortgages, with one in three people having a home loan on which they owe an average pounds 39,129, according to debt adviser One Advice.
The Washingtons still owed 57,000 on it and a trade-in would have left them with $5,500 on top of the new car note.
City Controller Laura Chick issued a scathing audit Thursday of the city's efforts to collect $80 million it's owed, saying more money is spent trying to get the debts paid than the pittance that is actually collected.
In 1990, B took a second mortgage on his home to secure a debt that C owed to the Bank.