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1. To repay an amount of money that was borrowed. If you fail to pay your loan back in the minimum monthly installments, the bank will start charging exorbitant fees.
2. To repay someone or some group. A noun or pronoun can be used between "pay" and "back." I don't mind you borrowing money from me, but please pay me back as soon as possible. If you don't pay back the bank, they could repossess your house!
3. To return a favor given by someone or some group. A noun or pronoun can be used between "pay" and "back." Thank you so much for taking the kids while I was in the hospital! I don't know how I'll pay you back. Many believe the politician's push for deregulation is her paying back the corporations who indirectly funded her campaign.
4. To get or seek revenge or retribution on someone or some group. A noun or pronoun can be used between "pay" and "back." The boss paid me back for my criticism by giving me the most tedious, mind-numbing assignments possible. The best way to pay back bullies from high school is to show them how successful you've become as an adult.
Revenge or retribution. Many people believe the demotion was payback for his refusal to support the legislation. I could see him staggering over to us, drunk as a skunk and looking for payback.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
pay someone back
1. . Lit. to return money that was borrowed from a person. You owe me money. When are you going to pay me back? You must pay John back. You have owed him money for a long time. You have to pay back everyone you owe money to.
2. Fig. to get even with someone [for doing something]. I will pay her back for what she said about me. Fred eventually will pay Mike back. He bears grudges for a long time. He intends to pay back everyone who has wronged him!
pay something back (to someone)
to repay someone. I paid the money back to Jerry. Can I pay back the money to George now? Please pay the money back now.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. Repay a debt or a loan, as in I'll pay you back next month.
2. Also, pay back in someone's own coin. Revenge oneself, repay in kind, as in He thought he could get away with copying my plans, but I'll pay him back in his own coin . This expression refers to repaying a debt in exactly the same currency in which the money had been lent. [c. 1600]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
1. To return some amount of money that has been borrowed: Will you pay back the $60 I gave you last month? They finally paid the money back.
2. To repay someone an amount of money: I might not have enough money to pay them back. We need to pay back the bank.
3. To reward or punish someone for something: After all their hard work, the team was paid back with a victory. After they beat us, we paid them back by winning the series.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.