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 ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.