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owe it to (someone or 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

pound of flesh

A debt or punishment, especially a cruel or unreasonable one, 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 flesh promised as collateral for a loan. The victim of the incident, while only sustaining superficial injuries, is demanding his pound of flesh from the nightclub owner following the court ruling. Be very careful about taking out loans that you can't repay right away, or you will have collectors coming after you for a pound of flesh.
See also: flesh, of, pound

owe (one) one

To be indebted to someone for something they did. Thanks for not ratting me out to the boss about being late this morning—I owe you one!
See also: one, owe

think the world owes (one) a living

To believe that one is entitled to financial wellbeing or a comfortable life without having to work for it. Our parents worked every day of their lives to give us a better, more comfortable life, so it isn't a complete surprise that kids of my generation grew up thinking the world owes them a living.
See also: living, owe, think, world

owe (something) to (someone or something)

1. To be obliged to give or pay something back to someone or something else. I owe a new bike to David because I got his run over by a street cleaner. We owe about $1,500 to the bank for the loan we used to pay for our wedding.
2. To attribute one's possession or acquisition of something to someone or something else. I truly owe my happiness to you—I love you so much. The country owes its wealth and global influence to the vast mineral reserves buried in its hills.
See also: owe

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.

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, someone

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

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.

(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 ?
Newlay Civil Engineering Airdrie, owed PS1860 to one worker.
Landlords were owed a further PS9m, and the taxman owed PS2.
I'm pleased he is proposing a significant down payment on the money they are owed under the agreement he made and the legislation we passed.
Durham City Council terminated 44 tenancies in the last year and is owed pounds 589,188 in rent.
Contributions made to these funds will reduce your refund or increase taxes owed.
Landlords were reportedly owed a further PS9m, while the taxman was owed PS2.
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.
I am hopeful that this audit will direct your renewed attention to the fact the city, across almost every department, needs to improve its performance in collecting money it is legitimately owed,'' Chick said in a letter to Mayor James Hahn and the City Council.
In 1990, B took a second mortgage on his home to secure a debt that C owed to the Bank.
But it's the sheer amount of money owed by so many individuals and companies that now has officials aggressively working to transfer viable properties to new ownership.
The establishment of a special account to meet obligations related to the oil-indexed instrument is viewed favorably and bolsters the credibility of the government's stated intention to pay once the amount owed is determined.
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.
Effective tax administration: the taxpayer agrees with the amount owed and has the resources to pay but believes it would cause economic hardship or is unfair and inequitable.