duty

noun
du·​ty | \ ˈdü-tē How to pronounce duty (audio) also ˈdyü- \
plural duties

Definition of duty

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : conduct due to parents and superiors : respect filial duty and obedience— John Locke
2a : obligatory tasks, conduct, service, or functions that arise from one's position (as in life or in a group) was his duty to support his family Her primary duty at the meeting was to take attendance. performs a variety of administrative duties
b(1) : assigned service or business was put on kitchen duty jury duty
(2) : active military service returning from duty overseas
(3) : a period of being on duty report for duty at 7 a.m.
3a : a moral or legal obligation felt it was their duty to help
b : the force of moral obligation will be ready when duty calls
4 : tax especially : a tax on imports a 15 percent duty
b(1) : the service required (as of an electric machine) under specified conditions
(2) : functional application : use got double duty out of the trip
(3) : use as a substitute making the word do duty for the thing— Edward Sapir
off duty
: free from assignment or responsibility a police officer who was off duty at the time
on duty
: engaged in or responsible for an assigned task or duty not allowed to take personal calls while on duty

Definition of duty (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : done as a duty pay a duty call on her elderly aunt
2 : being on duty : assigned to specified tasks or functions the duty officer

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Synonyms for duty

Synonyms: Noun

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Noun

function, office, duty, province mean the acts or operations expected of a person or thing. function implies a definite end or purpose or a particular kind of work. the function of language is two-fold: to communicate emotion and to give information — Aldous Huxley office is typically applied to the function or service associated with a trade or profession or a special relationship to others. they exercise the offices of the judge, the priest, the counsellor — W. E. Gladstone duty applies to a task or responsibility imposed by one's occupation, rank, status, or calling. it is the judicial duty of the court, to examine the whole case — R. B. Taney province applies to a function, office, or duty that naturally or logically falls to one. I felt it was not my province to inquire — Anne Brontë

task, duty, job, chore, stint, assignment mean a piece of work to be done. task implies work imposed by a person in authority or an employer or by circumstance. charged with a variety of tasks duty implies an obligation to perform or responsibility for performance. the duties of a lifeguard job applies to a piece of work voluntarily performed; it may sometimes suggest difficulty or importance. the job of turning the company around chore implies a minor routine activity necessary for maintaining a household or farm. every child was assigned chores stint implies a carefully allotted or measured quantity of assigned work or service. a 2-month stint as a reporter assignment implies a definite limited task assigned by one in authority. a reporter's assignment

Examples of duty in a Sentence

Noun His primary duty at the event is to take attendance. If new employees are unable to carry out their duties, they may be fired. We felt it was our duty to help. He has a duty to support his family. They helped her out of a sense of duty. I'll be ready when duty calls. Her brother returned from duty overseas. a twelve-month tour of duty Many reserve troops were called into active duty.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In 1993, the Clinton White House set off a political storm by abruptly firing the entire staff of its travel office; five of the seven staffers were later reinstated and assigned to other duties. BostonGlobe.com, "This day in history," 19 May 2020 The one American sent to Kuwait has since returned to duty in Iraq. Bloomberg.com, "Pentagon: 34 Troops Suffered Brain Injuries in Iran Strike," 15 May 2020 Brent Hopkins, who was among the LAPD detectives reassigned to some patrol duties in the early days of the pandemic, said a man flagged him down asking where to find a good deal on toilet paper. Cindy Chang, Los Angeles Times, "Policing empty streets amid coronavirus: Cops are killjoys, bearers of goodwill," 11 May 2020 When called to duty, our grandmothers, our aunts, and our mothers showed up and did the work. Amy Nelson, NBC News, "The Riveter's Amy Nelson: For Mother's Day, let's give women equal pay," 6 May 2020 The department has redeployed parking enforcement officers to other duties when necessary, such as helping with sanitation, litter pick up or cleaning and disinfecting fleet vehicles, DPW spokesman Brian DeNeve said in an email. Alison Dirr, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Coronavirus cost Milwaukee an estimated $6.7 million in revenue between March and April, city says," 4 May 2020 Six are out, and expected to be back soon, and four have already recovered and returned to duty. Ganesh Setty, Anna Sturla And Theresa Waldrop, CNN, "Lawyers representing ICE detainees say Friday's clash may have been retaliation for lawsuit, sheriff's office objects," 3 May 2020 In addition to her administrative duties at Stanford, Boland taught a full course load and still found time to be consistently creative. Sam Whiting, SFChronicle.com, "Eavan Boland, Irish poet and Stanford professor, dies in her native Dublin," 3 May 2020 In addition to her high school coaching duties, Stillwell also coaches summer club swimming. James Weber, Cincinnati.com, "McNicholas names new athletic director, Milford names All-American swimmer as head coach," 30 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective McLemore was in the company of a female off-duty police officer during the offense. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, "2 Sunday-morning shootings in Brighton under investigation," 10 Nov. 2019 In the city’s Yuen Long area, a Hong Kong off-duty police officer surrounded by demonstrators shot a 14-year-old in the leg. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "The latest violence in Hong Kong now has the UN’s attention," 5 Oct. 2019 The manager told police an off-duty police officer by the name Andrew Mueller showed his firearm and badge to a female patron of the bar, the report states. Jennifer Edwards Baker, Cincinnati.com, "UC cop charged with OVI investigated for previous incidents involving drinking," 23 Feb. 2020 Samhan, 25, of Lakewood and Marcum, 21, of Hinckley are each charged with felonious assault in the Thursday incident that injured an off-duty police officer, according to court records. Evan Macdonald, cleveland, "Shoplifting suspects accused of hitting North Olmsted officer with SUV arrested in Cleveland, police say," 17 Feb. 2020 The incident occurred on Monday afternoon at approximately 3:30 p.m. in Houston, Texas when an off-duty police officer caught a strange sight on W. Sam Houston Parkway Beltway, according to ABC News' Houston station KTRK. Jon Haworth, ABC News, "5 kids caught in stolen truck lead police on short chase, crash into 2 other cars," 11 Feb. 2020 Petty theft: Lorain Road Police responded at 5:14 a.m. Jan. 29 to Giant Eagle regarding a suspected shoplifter who was being held by an off-duty police officer. Bruce Geiselman, cleveland, "Police nab robbery suspect: North Olmsted Police Blotter," 8 Feb. 2020 Shootings can occur at all sorts of school events: proms, graduations, even a back-to-school night in Pennsylvania where an off-duty correctional officer accidentally shot himself in the parking lot. Denise Lu, New York Times, "An Overlooked Danger: School Shootings After Hours," 6 Jan. 2020 Should the city of Chicago have to pay $44 million for a shooting involving an off-duty police officer? Chicago Tribune Staff, chicagotribune.com, "The Spin: Federal judge calls out Dorothy Brown | Lightfoot says she’s no bully | Fritz Kaegi’s first property tax assessments are in," 12 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'duty.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of duty

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1806, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for duty

Noun and Adjective

Middle English duete, from Anglo-French deueté, dueté, from deu due

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Time Traveler for duty

Time Traveler

The first known use of duty was in the 13th century

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Statistics for duty

Last Updated

23 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Duty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/duty. Accessed 28 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for duty

duty

noun

Financial Definition of duty

What It Is

In the tax and import/export world, a duty (or customs duty) is money collected under a tariff.

How It Works

A duty is a federal tax on imports or exports. For example, Americans who travel abroad can bring back a certain number of dollars' worth of items without paying a duty. If the traveler brings back more than the allowed dollar amount worth of items, he or she must pay the tax (which varies according to the type of item, the type of travel, and other factors).

One of the best known tariff agreements is the controversial North American Free Trade Agreement, which went into effect on January 1, 1994. NAFTA required the elimination of duties on half of U.S. goods shipped to Mexico and the gradual phaseout of other tariffs among the U.S., Canada and Mexico over a 14-year period.

The World Trade Organization, which was created in 1995 and replaced the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, is an international body that acts as a trade-dispute settlement organization and offers a forum to discuss new and existing trade rules and tariffs.

Why It Matters

Duties are used by governments to generate revenue or to protect domestic industries from competition. Duties can make it more expensive for Americans to purchase foreign goods, causing a decline in imports, a decline in the supply of the good, and a resulting increase in the price of the good. The price increase usually motivates domestic producers to increase their output of the product. Some economists argue that the resulting higher consumer prices, higher producer revenues and profits, and higher government revenues make duties a way to effectively transfer money from U.S. consumers to the U.S. Treasury. Some economists also argue that duties interfere with free market ideals by diverting resources to industries in which the U.S. is a less efficient, high-cost producer.

Source: Investing Answers

duty

noun
How to pronounce duty (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of duty

: something that is done as part of a job
: something that you must do because it is morally right or because the law requires it
: active military service

duty

noun
du·​ty | \ ˈdü-tē How to pronounce duty (audio) , ˈdyü- \
plural duties

Kids Definition of duty

1 : something a person feels he or she ought to do because it is morally right Dad says it's his duty to take care of Grandma.
2 : something a person is required to do by law jury duty
3 : an action done as part of a job or position a principal's duties
4 : the time during which a person must do his or her job The police officer was on duty.
5 : active military service He returned from duty overseas.
6 : a tax especially on imports into a country

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duty

noun
du·​ty
plural duties

Legal Definition of duty

1 : tasks, service, or functions that arise from one's position performing a police officer's duties also : a period of being on duty — see also jury duty
2 : an obligation assumed (as by contract) or imposed by law to conduct oneself in conformance with a certain standard or to act in a particular way duty of good faith a duty to warn of danger — see also public duty doctrine, special duty doctrine
duty of candor \ -​ˈkan-​dər \
: a duty obligating directors of a corporation to disclose all material facts known to them about a transaction when they are seeking shareholder approval
duty of care
: a duty to use due care toward others in order to protect them from unnecessary risk of harm
duty of fair representation
: a duty obligating a labor union to represent the employees in its collective bargaining unit fairly and in good faith
duty of loyalty
: a duty obligating directors of a corporation to refrain from using their positions to further their own interests rather than the interests of the shareholders (as by self-dealing or fraud)
fiduciary duty
: a duty obligating a fiduciary (as an agent or trustee) to act with loyalty and honesty and in a manner consistent with the best interests of the beneficiary of the fiduciary relationship (as a principal or trust beneficiary)
3 : tax especially : a tax on imports
off duty
: not engaged in a duty a police officer who is off duty
on duty
: engaged in a duty

History and Etymology for duty

Anglo-French deuté indebtedness, obligation, from deu owing, due, from Old French — see due

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More from Merriam-Webster on duty

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for duty

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with duty

Spanish Central: Translation of duty

Nglish: Translation of duty for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of duty for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about duty

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