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

duty

adjective

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

assessment, imposition, impost, levy, tax

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Choose the Right Synonym for duty

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

During the course of his duties as a NASA chaplain, Stout grew close to Ed White, the first American to perform a spacewalk. Daniel Oberhaus, WIRED, "Spaceflight and Spirituality, a Complicated Relationship," 16 July 2019 Agents were caught making racist remarks on a Facebook group and minting a commemorative coin mocking their duty to care for migrants. Ana Radelat, courant.com, "Rep. Rosa DeLauro, fellow Democrats, decry conditions at center for migrant youth," 15 July 2019 Got the nod to start four games whilst Andre Blake was away on international duty with Jamaica recently, keeping one clean sheet. SI.com, "FIFA 20: Every Philadelphia Union Player's Predicted Ultimate Team Rating," 14 July 2019 With both teams’ rosters bolstered by returns from players who were on international duty for the Gold Cup, the two teams on the field on Saturday are expected to be drastically different than the lineups in Columbus. Julia Poe, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando City rides momentum of Open Cup victory into rematch with Columbus Crew," 14 July 2019 As a patron of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Kate had to arrive early in order to carry out her official duties. Stephanie Petit, PEOPLE.com, "Royal Moms' Day Out! Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton Return to Wimbledon for Sister-in-Law Date," 13 July 2019 Zyszkiewicz was on duty with the Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services and parked his vintage Ford Mustang near North 23rd and West Cherry streets when Smiley, Qhualun D. Shaw, and Deshaun K. Scott targeted him for a carjacking. William Langhorne, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Third man sentenced for murder of Milwaukee building inspector," 12 July 2019 Feltscher gave the Galaxy a 1-0 lead 101 seconds into the game off a corner kick from Jonathan dos Santos as both players were returning to the Galaxy from international duty. Field Level Media, The Mercury News, "San Jose Earthquakes tally three second-half goals to down LA Galaxy," 12 July 2019 In the early days, his duties included cleaning the shop at night. James R. Hagerty, WSJ, "Arthur Ryan, Founder of Primark Chain, Found a Winning Formula for Cheap Chic," 12 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Maryland authorities are crediting an off-duty police officer with kicking in a front door and saving two people from a burning home. baltimoresun.com, "Off-duty police officer saves 2 from burning Maryland home," 16 July 2019 The man in the kayak, Chad Hammel, and two of his friends, one an off-duty lifeguard and the other an off-duty police officer, helped get Keane to shore. Lyndsay Winkley, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Teen shark attack victim throws out first pitch at Padres game," 5 July 2019 Demonstrations have been held in several cities in a display of anger over the fatal shooting of an Ethiopian Israeli teen, Solomon Teka, by an off-duty police officer in Kiryat Haim, just north of Haifa on Sunday. Andrew Carey, CNN, "Violent protests over teen's death in Israel draw police response," 3 July 2019 The shooting death of Solomon Teka, a young Israeli man of Ethiopian descent, by an off-duty police officer has sparked protests across the country, modeled in part on the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States. Noga Tarnopolsky, latimes.com, "Cries of ‘Black Lives Matter’ in Israel after officer fatally shoots unarmed young man of Ethiopian origin," 2 July 2019 Connelly was able to flag down an off-duty police officer from the side of the road. Sarah Ladd, The Courier-Journal, "Police: Man arrested after shooting a driver and stealing his car on I-264," 1 July 2019 One person is dead Wednesday morning after a chain of events involving a crash and an assault, and ending with the victim being run over by an off-duty police officer. Ivana Hrynkiw | Ihrynkiw@al.com, al.com, "Man dead after carjacking; later run over by off-duty Birmingham officer," 19 June 2019 The 32-year-old man shot and killed by an off-duty police officer in a Costco store on Friday night in Corona was nonverbal and had an intellectual disability, according to a family member. Laura Newberry, latimes.com, "Costco shooting: Man killed by off-duty officer was nonverbal, had an intellectual disability," 16 June 2019 Three others were injured, including one off-duty police officer from another department, according to the Los Angeles Times. Matt Mcnulty, PEOPLE.com, "At Least 1 Dead and 3 Injured, Including an Off-Duty Officer, in Calif. Costco Shooting," 15 June 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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Dictionary Entries near duty

dutiful

Dutra

dutuburi

duty

duty bound

duty-free

duty mark

Statistics for duty

Last Updated

19 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for duty

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

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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

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with duty

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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