verb (used with object), o·bliged, o·blig·ing.
verb (used without object), o·bliged, o·blig·ing.
QUIZ YOURSELF ON "WAS" VS. "WERE"!
Origin of oblige
synonym study for oblige
OTHER WORDS FROM obligeo·blig·er, nounpre·o·blige, verb (used with object), pre·o·bliged, pre·o·blig·ing.re·o·blige, verb (used with object), re·o·bliged, re·o·blig·ing.
Words nearby oblige
What does oblige mean?
Oblige commonly means to politely do something for someone, as in He’s the kind of person who’s happy to oblige no matter what the request is.
This sense of the word is sometimes used in a somewhat ironic way that likens a negative reaction to a polite one, as in He rudely told me to step aside and let him pass, and I was happy to oblige since I was standing in front of a huge mud puddle.
Oblige also commonly means to require, compel, or constrain. This can imply a moral sense of duty or one based on conscience, as in It is her sense of duty that obliges her to make this sacrifice. Or it can imply an official or legal requirement, as in The contract obliges us to perform three nights a week.
This sense of oblige is perhaps most often used in passive constructions, as in By contract, we are obliged to perform three nights a week.
The similar verb obligate can be used to mean the same thing. The related noun obligation refers to a responsibility or duty that is required of someone. In other words, an obligation is something you are obliged or obligated to do. Something that’s required in such a way can be described with the related adjective obligatory.
Sometimes, oblige means to put one in a debt of gratitude, such as for some favor or service. This sense of the word is especially used in the phrase much obliged, which can be used by itself as another way of saying thank you or in a sentence, as in We’re much obliged for all your hospitality.
Example: There is no requirement that obliges us to help those who are less fortunate—but we should do it out of a moral obligation.
Where does oblige come from?
The first records of the word oblige come from the 1200s. It ultimately comes from the Latin verb obligāre, meaning “to bind.”
When we feel that we are obliged to do something, we feel that we have been bound by some duty or requirement. When oblige means “to accommodate,” it often implies that doing so will require some amount of effort by or trouble for the person doing the obliging—for which the recipient of the favor should be much obliged.
Did you know ... ?
What are some other forms related to oblige?
- obliging (continuous tense verb, adjective)
- obliged (past tense verb, adjective)
What are some synonyms for oblige?
What are some words that share a root or word element with oblige?
What are some words that often get used in discussing oblige?
How is oblige used in real life?
Oblige can sound quite formal, especially compared to synonyms like require.
People often ask me what I'm looking at in the woods, and I'm happy to oblige, but today someone was visibly disappointed when I pointed to an enormous, beautiful hornet's nest. "I thought you saw a cool bird!" Yeah, well, I thought I saw a nature lover, you jabroni.
— Monikah (@schmonikah) December 31, 2020
In the utility room sorting laundry. My kid comes in and demands a cuddle. Funnily enough I dropped what I was doing to oblige him #lovemyson
— Maria Robertson (@stupidgirl_no1) December 28, 2020
“Life obliges me to do something, so I paint.”~ Rene Magritte. Magritte at work in his living room, 1964. pic.twitter.com/jOOfgyxaZZ
— Sultan AlShaheen (@S_Al_Shaheen) February 14, 2017
Try using oblige!
Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of oblige?
Example sentences from the Web for oblige
The national creation narrative is obliged to contend with a host of destabilizing forces.Four presidents who put Virginia’s stamp on early America|Andrew Burstein|October 30, 2020|Washington Post
The third contribution of human rights is that they oblige governments to develop a holistic, integrated response to the pandemic.Why Human Rights Should Guide Responses To The Global Pandemic|LGBTQ-Editor|October 7, 2020|No Straight News
He obliged, naming specific dates on which he said he had abused Stewart, all while under the influence of alcohol and cocaine.Her Stepfather Admitted to Sexually Abusing Her. That Wasn’t Enough to Keep Her Safe.|by Nadia Sussman|September 18, 2020|ProPublica
There is also the “blank check” syndrome whereby the host city is legally obliged to cover cost overruns, while the IOC takes on no such liability.
He obliged the vacation request but was appalled to later find a worker’s compensation form in his file filled out by Brady citing stress and burnout, the investigation says.Accusations Flew, Then National School District Official Got Paid to Resign|Ashly McGlone|July 20, 2020|Voice of San Diego
The would-be pope killer loves to be in front of the cameras, and the press in Italy is happy to oblige.
The zoo is blessed with multiple wallabies and was happy to oblige.Ebola's Roots Are 50 Times Older Than Mankind. And That Could Be the Key to Stopping It.|Michael Daly|October 20, 2014|DAILY BEAST
To know the Egyptian military is to realize it will not oblige.Leslie H. Gelb on the Democracy-Elections Trap in Egypt|Leslie H. Gelb|July 22, 2013|DAILY BEAST
I know some magazines contractually oblige their staff writers to produce six features a year, for example.
If Republicans wanted to talk books, Elleithee said, the McAuliffe campaign should be happy to oblige.In Virginia, Terry McAuliffe’s Memoir Comes Back to Haunt Him|David Freedlander|May 7, 2013|DAILY BEAST
And was it not possible that the E. of N. might oblige his old Friends in the same manner?An Account of the Growth of Deism in England|William Stephens
Jonas: La baleine fut la fin oblige de le vomir tant un Prophte est un morceau difficile digrer.Baron d'Holbach|Max Pearson Cushing
And to increase the horrid scene, they would oblige the husband to be a spectator before suffered himself.Fox's Book of Martyrs|John Foxe
Señor Rhodes will be pleased to unfasten those heavy chains to oblige the lady.The Treasure Trail|Marah Ellis Ryan
Few were the dances in which I did not take a part, sinking so low as occasionally to oblige with a hornpipe.In the Wrong Paradise|Andrew Lang