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 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 Miller's updated and localized script changes ping perfectly (even the obligatory Tonya Harding joke). oregonlive, "Portland Center Stage gives ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ a raucous homecoming," 7 Jan. 2020 If all of that sounds like a drag, obligatory and austere, don’t worry. Christina Tkacik, baltimoresun.com, "Review: At this new Hampden restaurant, invasive species like snakehead and blue catfish are approachable and delicious," 4 Dec. 2019 Many of them were also not enrolled in school, despite a French law that makes schooling obligatory for anyone on French soil between the ages of six and sixteen, irrespective of their legal status. Tommy Trenchard, Harper's magazine, "Oceans Apart," 6 Jan. 2020 Like Slotkin, Moulton began his statement with an obligatory denunciation of Suleimani’s deeds. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "The Democrats’ Gutless Response to Trump’s Airstrike," 3 Jan. 2020 An obligatory grin tends to activate mouth muscles only. Elisabeth Blagrove, Quartz, "The psychology of how facial expressions hide Christmas disappointment," 25 Dec. 2019 In more than 1,400 photos, the superstar shares her backstage moments, vacation moments and fashion moments, along with the obligatory concert moments. Leanne Italie, Twin Cities, "Coffee table books are great gifts — even if you don’t have a coffee table," 30 Nov. 2019 And what has become an obligatory player yelling at Kitchens on the sideline. Terry Pluto, cleveland, "Another Cleveland Browns loss, another day of questions about Freddie Kitchens," 22 Dec. 2019

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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Statistics for obligatory

Last Updated

24 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Obligatory.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obligatory. Accessed 27 January 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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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).


one that suddenly gains wealth or power

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