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verb \ə-ˈblīj\

Simple Definition of oblige

  • : to force or require (someone or something) to do something because of a law or rule or because it is necessary

  • : to do something that someone has asked you to do : to do a favor for (someone)

Full Definition of oblige


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to constrain by physical, moral, or legal force or by the exigencies of circumstance <obliged to find a job>

  3. 2 a :  to put in one's debt by a favor or service <we are much obliged for your help> b :  to do a favor for <always ready to oblige a friend>

  4. intransitive verb
  5. :  to do something as or as if as a favor

oblig·er noun

Examples of oblige

  1. The law obliges the government to release certain documents to the public.

  2. Her job obliges her to work overtime and on weekends.

  3. She's always ready to oblige her friends.

  4. Thank you for your help. I'm happy to oblige.

  5. They asked for food and he obliged with soup and sandwiches.

Origin of oblige

Middle English, from Anglo-French obliger, from Latin obligare, literally, to bind to, from ob- toward + ligare to bind — more at ligature

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of oblige

force, compel, coerce, constrain, oblige mean to make someone or something yield. force is the general term and implies the overcoming of resistance by the exertion of strength, power, or duress <forced to flee for their lives>. compel typically suggests overcoming of resistance or unwillingness by an irresistible force <compelled to admit my mistake>. coerce suggests overcoming resistance or unwillingness by actual or threatened violence or pressure <coerced into signing over the rights>. constrain suggests the effect of a force or circumstance that limits freedom of action or choice <constrained by conscience>. oblige implies the constraint of necessity, law, or duty <felt obliged to go>.

Seen and Heard

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February 10, 2016

to put in good humor

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