To pawn something is to use it as collateral when you're borrowing money. When you pawn a necklace at a pawn shop, you get cash in exchange for it with the understanding that you can buy it back later.

The benefit when you pawn something is getting cash immediately. The down side is that you'll have to pay more money — the amount you borrowed, plus interest — to get your item back. If you aren't able to do this, the pawn shop will sell it to someone else. As a noun, a pawn is the smallest, least powerful piece in a game of chess, or a description of a person who's being used or manipulated.

Definitions of pawn
  1. verb
    leave as a guarantee in return for money
    pawn your grandfather's gold watch”
    synonyms: hock, soak
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    type of:
    charge, consign
    give over to another for care or safekeeping
  2. noun
    an article deposited as security
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    type of:
    a deposit of personal property as security for a debt
  3. noun
    borrowing and leaving an article as security for repayment of the loan
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    type of:
    obtaining funds from a lender
  4. noun
    a person used by another to gain an end
    synonyms: cat's-paw, instrument
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    type of:
    assistant, help, helper, supporter
    a person who contributes to the fulfillment of a need or furtherance of an effort or purpose
  5. noun
    (chess) the least powerful piece; moves only forward and captures only to the side; it can be promoted to a more powerful piece if it reaches the 8th rank
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    type of:
    chess piece, chessman
    any of 16 white and 16 black pieces used in playing the game of chess
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