\ ə-ˈblīj How to pronounce oblige (audio) \
obliged; obliging

Definition of oblige

transitive verb

1 : to constrain by physical, moral, or legal force or by the exigencies of circumstance obliged to find a job felt obliged to share it with her
2a : to put in one's debt by a favor or service We are much obliged for your help.
b : to do a favor for always ready to oblige a friend

intransitive verb

: to do something as or as if as a favor When he was asked for advice, he obliged.

Other Words from oblige

obliger noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for oblige



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Choose the Right Synonym for oblige

force, compel, coerce, constrain, oblige mean to make someone or something yield. force is the general term and implies the overcoming of resistance by the exertion of strength, power, or duress. forced to flee for their lives compel typically suggests overcoming of resistance or unwillingness by an irresistible force. compelled to admit my mistake coerce suggests overcoming resistance or unwillingness by actual or threatened violence or pressure. coerced into signing over the rights constrain suggests the effect of a force or circumstance that limits freedom of action or choice. constrained by conscience oblige implies the constraint of necessity, law, or duty. felt obliged to go

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If you are obliged by a rule or law you are metaphorically bound by it—that is, you are required to obey it. The idea of binding links the word to its Latin source, ligāre, meaning “to fasten, bind.” In the most common modern uses of oblige, though, the idea of binding is somewhat masked: it is applied when someone is bound by a debt for some favor or service, as in “We’re much obliged to you for the help,” but in the phrase “happy to oblige” it simply expresses a willingness to do someone a favor, as in “They needed a ride and we were happy to oblige.”

Examples of oblige in a Sentence

The law obliges the government to release certain documents to the public. Her job obliges her to work overtime and on weekends. She's always ready to oblige her friends. “Thank you for your help.” “I'm happy to oblige.” They asked for food and he obliged with soup and sandwiches.
Recent Examples on the Web Which the artists, especially in the superhero/sci-fi/fantasy worlds, seem happy to oblige — or scared not to. David Marchesephotograph By Mamadi Doumbouya, New York Times, 28 July 2022 Happy to oblige, the all-ages crowd exploded into rapturous cheers every time her perfect composure gave way to the slightest gesture. Karen Muller, BostonGlobe.com, 27 July 2022 Your friend may still well ask to see the new house — and Miss Manners leaves it up to your discretion to oblige. Jacobina Martin, Washington Post, 15 July 2022 Wall Street firms were happy to oblige by rebranding funds as ESG and launching new ones. Greg Petro, Forbes, 17 June 2022 Lozano is delighted to be able to oblige Luminaria-goers with an in-person celebration of the city’s arts community. Deborah Martin, San Antonio Express-News, 10 Nov. 2021 Ivey’s order also stands at odds with White House plans to oblige all US enterprises with 100 or more workers to adopt vaccine mandates, or install a weekly testing regime. BostonGlobe.com, 26 Oct. 2021 The Reds were the first to oblige, falling to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Los Angeles Times, 15 Sep. 2021 Edmonton was more than happy to oblige on that front, especially with Smith not expected to play next season because of injury. Stephen Whyno, Baltimore Sun, 13 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'oblige.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of oblige

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for oblige

Middle English obligen, oblischen "to impose on as a legal or moral duty, bind by oath or contract," borrowed from Anglo-French obliger, borrowed from Latin obligāre "to tie up, restrain by tying, assign, place under a legal or moral constraint, pledge," from ob- "toward, facing" + ligāre "to fasten, bind" — more at ob-, ligature

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The first known use of oblige was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

15 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Oblige.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oblige. Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for oblige


\ ə-ˈblīj How to pronounce oblige (audio) \
obliged; obliging

Kids Definition of oblige

1 : force entry 2 sense 1, compel The soldiers were obliged to retreat.
2 : to do a favor for or do something as a favor "… I don't mind doing what I can—just to oblige you …"— Hugh Lofting, The Story of Dr. Dolittle
3 : to earn the gratitude of You will oblige me by coming early.

More from Merriam-Webster on oblige

Nglish: Translation of oblige for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of oblige for Arabic Speakers


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