owe someone a marker

csicska

Senior Member
hungarian
Hello. Could you please tell me if "to owe someone a marker" means "to owe someone a favor (rather than money,...)"? Thank you.
 
  • Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    We use "marker" (rarely, but the OED actually qualified it as "U.S. slang"), but I would never say that I "owed someone a marker," no more than I would say that I "owed him an IOU." You give someone a marker (or an IOU), and that represents what you owe him.
     

    csicska

    Senior Member
    hungarian
    Thank you. But if a debtor gives someone a marker couldn't a creditor say that "they owe them a marker" and the marker is settled when it is given?
     
    Thanks, GF. So is it your feeling that, granting it should be "give," in AE we use "a marker" as a commonly understood equivalent of "an informal I.O.U."?

    I know you said it's rare, I'm just trying to find out if this basically understood and if somehow only me has never encountered it before. (Which wouldn't be the first time :))
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    in AE we use "a marker" as a commonly understood equivalent of "an informal I.O.U."?

    Well, that's the definition: "5.b U.S. slang. A promissory note; an I.O.U." Maybe it's more common in some places than others, or was more common at some point in the past; all I know is that I've seen it, but quite infrequently.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I think it's older slang. It featured prominently in the plot of the movie (and musical) 'Guys and Dolls', for example, and there was even an old Shirley Temple movie called "Little Miss Marker" where a father leaves his child as a marker for his gambling debt, promising to come back for her when he has the money.
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    ... there was even an old Shirley Temple movie called "Little Miss Marker" where a father leaves his child as a marker for his gambling debt, promising to come back for her when he has the money.
    Remade in 1949 (retitled Sorrowful Jones), starring Bob Hope and Lucille Ball, and in 1980, starring Walter Matthau and Julie Andrews.
     
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