oblig·​a·​to·​ry | \ ə-ˈbli-gə-ˌtȯr-ē How to pronounce obligatory (audio) , ä- also ˈä-bli-gə- \

Definition of obligatory

1 : binding in law or conscience The ordinance made it obligatory that homeowners clear the snow from the sidewalks.
2 : relating to or enforcing an obligation a writ obligatory
3 : mandatory, required obligatory military service also : so commonplace as to be a convention, fashion, or cliché the obligatory death scene in opera The thriller included the obligatory chase scene.
4 : obligate sense 1 an obligatory biped

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Other Words from obligatory

obligatorily \ ə-​ˌbli-​gə-​ˈtȯr-​ə-​lē How to pronounce obligatorily (audio) , ä-​ also  ˌä-​bli-​gə-​ \ adverb

Examples of obligatory in a Sentence

The training is obligatory for all personnel. This action movie includes the obligatory chase scenes.
Recent Examples on the Web Thus the race for wealth and the race for power (the means of attaining wealth) are merely the obligatory detour that a law takes in order to impose itself on human individuals. Mitchell Abidor, The New York Review of Books, "What the Honest Capitalist Will Say," 21 Feb. 2020 Nappa leather adorns the seats, and sheep or alpaca wool weaves accent the doors and dash, along with the obligatory Alcantara. Roberto Baldwin, Car and Driver, "Lucid Shows 400-Mile-Range Air Electric Sedan to Future Owners," 14 Feb. 2020 Official support for a €168m ($185m) industry that attracts tourists and investment is now obligatory in perennially hard-up Berlin. The Economist, "Strings of life Berliners fear “club death”," 1 Feb. 2020 Olive oil and tomatoes are obligatory, as are saffron and sweet Spanish paprika, which give the dish its aroma and color. Jeff Koehler, Saveur, "9 Ways to Make the Best Paella Ever," 20 July 2017 Saul thrilled, too, to figurative painters who had fallen from fashion in New York as abstraction became well-nigh obligatory: Salvador Dali, Thomas Hart Benton, Paul Cadmus, George Tooker. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "The In-Your-Face Paintings of Peter Saul," 10 Feb. 2020 The visit took place amid the incongruous sight of some students in the halls wearing brown military uniforms: Roughly 10 percent of the students are currently serving their obligatory military service, but in tandem with musical studies. David Patrick Stearns, Philly.com, "Philadelphia Orchestra plays Tel Aviv in its second of three shows in Israel," 4 June 2018 The cast - which also visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, hit E. 4th Street, and did the obligatory poses with a Cleveland script sign - complimented the city on Monday's show. Marc Bona, cleveland, "Jimmy Fallon pokes at Cleveland after ‘The Bachelor’ episode," 29 Jan. 2020 Despite Cody being in Milan on his big day, Miley made sure to spread the love with obligatory IG tributes. Kara Nesvig, Teen Vogue, "Miley Cyrus Shares Sweet Birthday Wishes for Cody Simpson," 12 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'obligatory.' 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 obligatory

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for obligatory

Middle English obligatorie, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French obligatorie, obligatoire, borrowed from Latin obligātōrius, from obligāre "to tie up, restrain by tying, place under a legal or moral constraint" + -tōrius, deverbal adjective suffix, originally forming derivatives from agent nouns ending in -tōr-, -tor — more at oblige

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Time Traveler for obligatory

Time Traveler

The first known use of obligatory was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

20 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Obligatory.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obligatory. Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for obligatory


How to pronounce obligatory (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of obligatory

formal : required by a law or rule
humorous : always or often included as a familiar and expected part of something


oblig·​a·​to·​ry | \ ə-ˈblig-ə-ˌtōr-ē, ä-, -ˌtȯr- also ˈäb-li-gə- \

Medical Definition of obligatory

Other Words from obligatory

obligatorily \ ə-​ˌblig-​ə-​ˈtōr-​ə-​lē, ä-​, -​ˈtȯr-​ also ˌäb-​li-​gə-​ \ adverb

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