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

Some research does suggest that retinal is basically as effective as those heavy duty retinoids and less likely to cause adverse reactions. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "Can People With Sensitive Skin Be in the Retinol Club, Too?," 30 Apr. 2019 Attorneys for active-duty service members went to court to block the policy shift, which could subject current transgender service members to discharge and deny them certain medical care. Dan Lamothe, The Seattle Times, "Supreme Court lets Trump’s restrictions on transgender troops take effect," 22 Jan. 2019 On Thursday, the White House announced plans to send at least 800 active duty troops to the southern border. Lynn Yaeger, Vogue, "The Week in Washington: “There’s No Proof of Anything”," 28 Oct. 2018 Futures Command is expected to have up to 500 employees, with an undetermined mixture of active-duty soldiers and civilians. Dan Lamothe, Washington Post, "Army to unveil details about new Futures Command in biggest reorganization in 45 years," 12 July 2018 The company’s stores now do double duty as warehouses, enabling customers to pick up purchases made online at its outlets, with around 40% of its online sales fulfilled this way, according to analysts at Jefferies Group LLC. Nina Trentmann, WSJ, "Best Buy Expected to Look for Tech-Savvy CFO to Advance Turnaround," 15 Apr. 2019 The Indiana native has completed 24 of 41 passes for 304 yards with a touchdown and an interception — mostly in mop-up duty — but has lent his athleticism as a receiver and ballcarrier with 14 catches for 62 yards and 76 carries for 506 yards. Travis Johnson, The Seattle Times, "Penn State QB competition on hold as Stevens gets healthy," 13 Apr. 2019 Go for a heavy duty adhesive, so your cap stays put through the whole ceremony. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Here's How to Wear a Graduation Cap With Natural Hair," 9 Apr. 2019 President Donald Trump is threatening to impose the tariffs in retaliation for duties that China slapped on $34 billion of U.S. goods on Friday. Anchorage Daily News, "A new round of proposed Trump tariffs would hit US consumers," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Off-duty police officer Amber Guyger has been charged with manslaughter and has since been released on bond. Fox News, "The Latest: Man killed by officer remembered at funeral," 13 Sep. 2018 According to local reports, off-duty police officer Kevin Brown was working as a security guard at the store and suspected 11-year-old Donesha Gowdy of shoplifting. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "An 11-year-old girl was suspected of shoplifting groceries. So a police officer tased her.," 6 Sep. 2018 He was identified as 33-year-old Jesse R. Reyes, after an off-duty police officer arrested him without a struggle. Lynda V. Mapes, The Seattle Times, "71-year-old man killed, two others injured in ‘random’ attacks in Bellingham," 8 Oct. 2018 The woman happened to be an off-duty police officer in some type of medical distress. Marlisse Cepeda, Woman's Day, "The Clever Trick to Opening Those Tough Plastic Packages," 23 Feb. 2016 Video provided by Shayne Holland IMPD is conducting an internal investigation to review the actions of an off-duty police officer accused of discriminating against a black man at an apartment complex swimming pool. Vic Ryckaert, Indianapolis Star, "IMPD investigating officer involved in alleged profiling incident at swimming pool," 13 July 2018 One man was apprehended quickly by an off-duty police officer who rushed to the scene about 6 p.m. June 9 at 3401 Red Bridge Road. Joe Robertson And Tess Vrbin, kansascity, "Gunman in Red Bridge Road shootout that hurt child still at large; police want help," 28 June 2018 The off-duty police officer pulled out her own gun and fired at the robber three times, hitting him in the chest and leg. Amanda Erickson, Washington Post, "A man in Brazil tried to rob a group of kids at gunpoint. This mom stepped in to stop him.," 14 May 2018 The teens tried to rescue him, and at one point an off-duty police officer also dove in to help search for him. Adam Sennott, BostonGlobe.com, "Worcester teen dies while swimming in Lake Chaubunagungamaug," 3 June 2018

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

10 May 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

Comments on duty

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