1. An instance of lending: a bank that makes loans to small businesses.
a. A sum of money that is lent, usually with an interest fee: took out a loan to buy a car; repaid the loan over five years.
b. The agreement or contract specifying the terms and conditions of the repayment of such a sum.
c. The repayment obligation associated with such an agreement: She couldn't afford the loan after losing her job.
d. The right to payment associated with such an agreement: a bank that buys consumer loans.
3. The state of being lent for temporary use: a painting on loan from another museum.
tr.v. loaned, loan·ing, loans
To lend (money or property).
[Middle English lan, lon, from Old Norse lān; see leikw- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: The verb loan has been criticized by usage writers since the 19th century as an illegitimate form. The verb had fallen out of use in Britain, and the British criticism of the word got picked up by writers in the United States, where the verb had survived. In fact, the use of loan goes back to the 16th century and possibly earlier. It has seen vigorous use in American English right up to today and must be considered standard: "Lenny was delighted and even loaned his friend the capital needed for a stake in the firm" (Louis Auchincloss). Note that loan is used to describe only physical transactions, as of money or goods, while lend is correct not just for physical transactions, but for figurative ones as well: "Experience with death does not lend wisdom to physicians any more than to undertakers" (Bernard Lown).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus