My question is simple and just as the title what does "I owe you my life" mean?

I searched for the meaning of "owe" and understand sentences like "I owe you 3 dollars" or "You owe me a favor", but I cant understand this sentence.

Please give explanation.


2 Answers 2


The meaning of 'owe' in this sentence is exactly what you think it is.

The situation is normally when someone's life has been saved by another. The first person had, essentially, lost their life, and the second person had given it back to him. The first person is indebted to the second for their life - they owe it to them.

In some cultures, mostly historical, this could be a literal debt - the person whose life was saved would owe the other whatever they required, up to and including sacrificing their own life for them. Nowadays the debt is not literal, but still implies that a moral debt is owed.


Owe is a synonym for Own, I think it has to do with the old language. if you replace Owe into own, you'll see it makes complete sense :-)

  • That makes no sense.
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 23, 2018 at 11:44
  • "Owe is a synonym for Own" -- Really? Please look up the words in a good dictionary. Good Luck.
    – Kris
    Jul 23, 2018 at 12:02
  • 1
    Although they are related (etymonline.com/word/own), I agree this makes no sense. And substituting "own" in the original sentence is not grammatical. Jul 23, 2018 at 14:02

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