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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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 During a series of encores, high- and middle-brow fused when Murray was given a bouquet — obligatory for triumphant opera divas — and then pulled a Bruce Springsteen, dashing out into the audience, tossing them every which way. David Patrick Stearns, Philly.com, "Bill Murray's odd variety show gets a big Philly ovation," 5 Apr. 2018 Yet when one person of special interest — Jos Brech, a 55-year-old Dutchman who had been missing since April — failed to show up for obligatory sampling this year, investigators dug deeper. Milan Schreuer, The Seattle Times, "17,500 Dutchmen gave their DNA in a murder inquiry. After 20 years, an arrest.," 27 Aug. 2018 While being escorted in an obligatory wheelchair, Jackie sits up straight with her feet—in heels, no less—angled gracefully to one side. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "John F. Kennedy Was Elected 58 Years Ago Today—When Jackie Was Eight Months Pregnant," 8 Nov. 2018 These days, the boho clan comes for the art, including the obligatory pilgrimage to Judd's Chinati Foundation, and is summarily awed by the setting. Rima Suqi, ELLE Decor, "How an Abandoned Texas Home Is Restored Into an Ethereal Country Getaway," 20 Sep. 2018 And hey, no more obligatory crowdfunding campaigns. That’s a relief. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "Microsoft acquires CRPG heavyweights Obsidian and InXile," 10 Nov. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about obligatory

Dictionary Entries near obligatory








Statistics for obligatory

Last Updated

18 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for obligatory

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for obligatory



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

Keep scrolling for more

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 collects or salvages junk

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!