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verb (used with object), o·bliged, o·blig·ing.
  1. to require or constrain, as by law, command, conscience, or force of necessity.
  2. to bind morally or legally, as by a promise or contract.
  3. to place under a debt of gratitude for some benefit, favor, or service: I'm much obliged for the ride.
  4. to put (one) in a debt of gratitude, as by a favor or accommodation: Mr. Weems will oblige us with a song.
  5. to make (an action, policy, etc.) necessary or obligatory: Your carelessness obliges firmness on my part.
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verb (used without object), o·bliged, o·blig·ing.
  1. to be kindly accommodating: I'll do anything within reason to oblige.
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Origin of oblige

1250–1300; Middle English obligen < Old French obligier < Latin obligāre to bind. See obligate
Related formso·blig·ed·ly [uh-blahy-jid-lee] /əˈblaɪ dʒɪd li/, adverbo·blig·ed·ness, nouno·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.un·o·bliged, adjective
Can be confusedcoerce compel constrain force obligeobligate oblige


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Synonym study

4. Oblige, accommodate imply making a gracious and welcome gesture of some kind. Oblige emphasizes the idea of conferring a favor or benefit (and often of taking some trouble to do it): to oblige someone with a loan. Accommodate emphasizes doing a service or furnishing a convenience: to accommodate someone with lodgings and meals.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for obliged

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He never ceased to feel cheated when he was obliged to ride in New York.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • I think, on the whole, I shan't be obliged to learn to braid straw.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Sometimes he packed clumsily, and she was obliged to do his work over.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • I was once a poor boy myself, obliged to struggle for my living.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Only Ambrose was, at parting for the night, obliged to ask him for the key of the gate.

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

British Dictionary definitions for obliged


  1. (tr; often passive) to bind or constrain (someone to do something) by legal, moral, or physical means
  2. (tr; usually passive) to make indebted or grateful (to someone) by doing a favour or servicewe are obliged to you for dinner
  3. to do a service or favour to (someone)she obliged the guest with a song
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Derived Formsobliger, noun

Word Origin

C13: from Old French obliger, from Latin obligāre, from ob- to, towards + ligāre to bind
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for obliged


c.1600, past participle adjective from oblige. To be obliged "be bound by ties of gratitude" is from 1540s.

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c.1300, "to bind by oath," from Old French obligier "engage one's faith, commit (oneself), pledge" (13c.), from Latin obligare "to bind, bind up, bandage," figuratively "put under obligation," from ob "to" (see ob-) + ligare "to bind," from PIE root *leig- "to bind" (see ligament). Main modern meaning "to make (someone) indebted by conferring a benefit or kindness" is from 1560s. Related: obliged; obliging.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper