Ode vs. Owed

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Ode and owed are two words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings, which makes them homophones. We will examine the definitions of ode and owed, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

An ode is a lyrical poem, often addressed to a particular subject. An ode is usually serious in nature, concerning important ideas. There are three types of odes. A Pindar Ode, named after the Greek poet Pindar, consists of three stanzas with irregular rhyming patterns and lengths of lines. A Horatian Ode, named after the Latin poet Horace, are informal, meditative poems. An Irregular Ode, as one may guess, is without a formal rhyming scheme or other rules. The word ode is derived from the Greek word oide which means lyrical song.

Owed is the past tense of the word owe, which means to be under an obligation to repay something to someone. One may owe many things, such as money, services or allegiance. Related words are owes, owing. The word owe is derived from the Old English word agan, which means to own or to have.


The latest installment in the author’s popular Bob Lee Swagger series (basis for the movie and the TV show “Shooter”), this book is an ode to firearms and the fine art of gunsmithing that should’ve been printed in black powder and Hoppe’s No. 9 instead of ink. (Newsday)

The accident’s outsize impact haunted Mr. Walowitz for 60 years and finally burst out of him in verse, in an ode he wrote called “The Story of the Milkman,” which begins:

When I was a kid our milkman was killed
right before dawn at a railroad crossing
one low whistle away from where we lived. (The New York Times)

The salaries were owed by the administration of Olusegun Mimiko, who Akeredolu took over from in February. (The Pulse Nigeria)

For the first time, dues owed by the Indian high commission as part of London’s congestion charge – mandatory for all vehicles moving in a zone marked “C” – have crossed £5 million. (The Hindustan Times)

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