owe » own

Chiefly in:   owning to , own one's success to

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • “Rhead became a huge success within the ceramics and pottery industry owning to his ability to adapt to changing tastes and new forms of art.” (link)
  • “… to support the granting of a variance from the terms of the Billerica Zoning By-Law owning to circumstances relating to soil conditions, shape, …” (link)
  • “Today, owning to several factors including government sector reform policy, the world-wide trend of rapid development in telecommunications and information …” (link)
  • “Dell owns his success to the focusing on his customers…” (link)
  • “ ‘I own my success to education.’ Kamen also describes his father as his personal hero, …” (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Linda Yanney (Usenet newsgroup soc.motss, 21 August 2005)

Although a fair number of the examples you can Google up were probably written by people who aren’t native speakers of English — Yanney provided an entertaining quotation from a French site on the deciphering of scripts — there’s still a big pile of clearly native cites, sampled above.

Yanney accounts for the semantics of the first cite above as follows: “Rhead owes his success to certain abilities; possessing, ‘owning,’ these abilities made his success possible.” The sense of personal possession is clear in the “own one’s success to” cites.

| link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/08/22 |


  1. 1

    Commentary by Adina Levin , 2005/08/26 at 2:34 am

    I’m no linguist, but this seems related to the idiom “owning up to”, meaning “taking responsibility for.”

  2. 2

    Commentary by Beche-la-mer , 2005/09/04 at 11:50 am

    Example of this in eggcorn in reverse:
    I submitted an article to an Australian craft magazine, in which I wrote “Merle owns Prudence Mapstone as her inspiration”. When it came out in print I was horrified to see that it had been changed to “Merle owes Prudence Mapstone as her inspiration”.

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