oblig·​a·​to·​ry | \ə-ˈbli-gə-ˌtȯr-ē, 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 , 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

To prevent driving bans, the government is finally thinking about obligatory hardware updates at the manufacturers’ expense to reduce NOx emissions in older diesel cars. Wolfgang Kerler, The Verge, "You thought Dieselgate was over? It’s not.," 18 Sep. 2018 As expected, the Galaxy Note 9 is basically a spec-sheet refresh of the Note 8 that ticks off the obligatory boxes, borrows a few of the S9+'s tricks, and brings a brand new S Pen to the party. Michael Simon, PCWorld, "The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has a better S Pen, smarter camera, and astronomical price," 9 Aug. 2018 After being deemed unfit to travel for a Zenit training camp last year, Dzyuba posted an obligatory gym photo on Instagram, with a caption that included nothing more than William Henley’s ‘Invictus’. Glorious insanity. SI.com, "Surprise World Cup Stars: Artem Dzyuba – The Russian Peter Crouch With an Infectious Smile," 9 July 2018 Often-obligatory backstage photos with important governmental figures are being avoided, according to sources. David Patrick Stearns, Philly.com, "Adoring Vienna sees Philadelphia Orchestra off to Israel, with no disruptions since Brussels," 1 June 2018 The preppy look is obligatory for Hill Rats, the 20- and 30-somethings who work for dirt and the illusion of power. Elinor Burkett, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kellyanne Conway Has Been Quietly Revolutionizing D.C. Since the Late '90s," 3 Feb. 2017 Melancholy is almost obligatory for young male poets; in other respects, Neruda spurned the genteel conventions still prevailing in love poetry of the time. Benjamin Kunkel, The New Republic, "The partisan world of Pablo Neruda," 2 July 2018 There was something similarly obligatory about Malone’s presentation of those cameos. Mikael Wood, latimes.com, "Post Malone was hip-hop's saddest champion at the Hollywood Bowl," 28 June 2018 According to Portuguese outlet Record, via Sport Witness, Sporting have approached the Foxes with a loan deal for Slimani but have been told that only a permanent transfer or loan with an obligatory option to buy will be considered. SI.com, "Leicester Holding Out for Around €20m Amidst Former Club's Interest in Out of Favour Striker," 23 June 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

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Last Updated

14 Nov 2018

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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

: required by a law or rule

: 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).


playful or foolish behavior

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