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See also: obligé




Borrowed from Old French obliger, from Latin obligo, obligare, from ob- + ligo. Doublet of obligate, taken straight from Latin.


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oblige (third-person singular simple present obliges, present participle obliging, simple past and past participle obliged)

  1. (transitive) To constrain someone by force or by social, moral or legal means.
    I am obliged to report to the police station every week.
    • 1749, John Cleland, “part 3”, in Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, London: G. Fenton, OCLC 13050889:
      Tho' he was some time awake before me, yet did he not offer to disturb a repose he had given me so much occasion for; but on my first stirring, which was not till past ten o'clock, I was oblig'd to endure one more trial of his manhood.
  2. (transitive) To do someone a service or favour (hence, originally, creating an obligation).
    He obliged me by not parking his car in the drive.
    • 1719, John Harris, Astronomical dialogues between a gentleman and a lady, page 151:
      In the mean time I have another trouble to give you, if you will oblige me in it; and that is to get me a sight of the famous Orrery, which I have heard you and others so often speak of; and which I think was made by Mr. Rowley, the famous Mathematical Instrument-Maker.
  3. (intransitive) To be indebted to someone.
    I am obliged to you for your recent help.
  4. (intransitive) To do a service or favour.
    The singer obliged with another song.

Usage notesEdit

"Obliged" has largely replaced "obligate"; the latter being more common in the 17th through 19th centuries.[1]

Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit



  1. ^ The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage (1996)