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From the pronunciation of "I owe you". Attested since at least 1618.
- I owe you.
- Customarily, if you borrow $10 for lunch from a coworker, writing IOU $10 on a yellow sticky note acts as a legal promissory note that you will repay said amount on payday.
IOU (plural IOUs)
- An informal promissory note that is not a negotiable instrument.
- When David couldn’t afford to match the money in the poker pot, he added an IOU for the remaining amount instead.
informal promissory note that is not a negotiable instrument