(used to express duty or moral obligation): Every citizen ought to help.
(used to express justice, moral rightness, or the like): He ought to be punished. You ought to be ashamed.
(used to express propriety, appropriateness, etc.): You ought to be home early. We ought to bring her some flowers.
(used to express probability or natural consequence): That ought to be our train now.
duty or obligation.
Both positive and negative forms of ought are almost always followed by the infinitive form: We ought to go now. You ought not to worry about it. Occasionally, to is omitted after the negative construction: Congress ought not adjourn without considering this bill.
Other definitions for ought (2 of 2)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use ought in a sentence
There was a string, dating back to the late oughts, when I rarely missed one.
When companies do bad things they ought to be held accountable for them.Why Do ‘Progressives’ Want to Ban Uber and AirBnB? | Adam Thierer, Christopher Koopman | December 30, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
We ought to seek Chinese cooperation in a response to this North Korean act of aggression.
Then when we arrive at his flat in Shepherd's Bush following the escape, perhaps there ought to be remnants of the ladder.Alfred Hitchcock’s Fade to Black: The Great Director’s Final Days | David Freeman | December 13, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
The officers explained that those Sikhs had been lynched to death and that Singh ought to anticipate the same fate for himself.As 30-Year Anniversary of Mass Killings in India Arrives, Sikhs Find Safety in USA | Simran Jeet Singh | October 31, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
“Novelist good for nothing else,” said Samuel Beckett, and that ought to be taken as a compliment.Nobel Prize Winner Modiano’s Magical Musical Prose About Paris | Pierre Assouline | October 14, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
And is this a mere fantastic talk, or is this a thing that could be done and that ought to be done?The Salvaging Of Civilisation | H. G. (Herbert George) Wells
I, therefore, deliver it as a maxim, that whoever desires the character of a proud man ought to conceal his vanity.Pearls of Thought | Maturin M. Ballou
When we speak against one capital vice, we ought to speak against its opposite; the middle betwixt both is the point for virtue.Pearls of Thought | Maturin M. Ballou
I really ought to visit my California estates, and I have always wanted to see that part of America.Ancestors | Gertrude Atherton
But she told Grandfather Mole that it was all right—that she knew a person of his age ought not to go without his breakfast.The Tale of Grandfather Mole | Arthur Scott Bailey
British Dictionary definitions for ought (1 of 3)
to indicate duty or obligation: you ought to pay your dues
to express prudent expediency: you ought to be more careful with your money
(usually with reference to future time) to express probability or expectation: you ought to finish this work by Friday
to express a desire or wish on the part of the speaker: you ought to come next week
British Dictionary definitions for ought (2 of 3)
a variant spelling of aught 1
British Dictionary definitions for ought (3 of 3)
a less common word for nought (def. 1)
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