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

That alarm has been silenced by endless Trump-bashing and Trump’s obligatory counterattacks. Hugh Hewitt, Twin Cities, "Hugh Hewitt: America’s enemies are on notice about this president," 5 June 2019 Among progressives, support is almost obligatory, so it’s no shock that Democrats who want to challenge President Trump in 2020—Sen. Jason L. Riley, WSJ, "Think College Is Expensive? Wait Until It’s Free," 15 Jan. 2019 Running on his own in the second jewel of the Triple Crown, Bodexpress began his obligatory trip around the track, driven either by instinct or the desire to be part of the crowd. David Ginsburg, The Seattle Times, "Horsing around: Riderless colt races to Preakness finish," 19 May 2019 On Wednesday, authorities rearrested the country’s most prominent human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who recently defended women protesting Iran’s obligatory headscarf rule. Amie Ferris-rotman, Washington Post, "‘Let us be free’: Iranian women mount protest over stadium ban at World Cup match," 15 June 2018 Today there are no obligatory rules dictating how the public should greet a member of the royal family, but traditionally in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, a man bows and a woman curtsies. Malia Wollan, New York Times, "How to Curtsy," 9 May 2018 And while athleisure does make an obligatory cameo, all the sweaters carry twee doodles by Castiglioni’s five-year-old daughter, Margherita. Erik Maza, Town & Country, "Plan C, the New Label From the Family Behind Marni, Is the Coolest Thing to Come out of Milan," 27 Feb. 2019 Yet none of these constitutes an obligatory credo for a Hindu. Shashi Tharoor, WSJ, "How Hinduism Has Persisted for 4,000 Years," 17 Jan. 2019 Taking no frills to a new level, obligatory Racing soccer team photos and flags make up the décor, as do paper plates thoughtfully inked in with house specials. Sorrel Moseley-williams, Condé Nast Traveler, "13 Best Steakhouses in Buenos Aires," 24 May 2018

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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Last Updated

13 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for obligatory

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

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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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Comments on obligatory

What made you want to look up obligatory? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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