oblige

verb
\ 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.

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from oblige

obliger noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for oblige

Synonyms

accommodate, favor

Antonyms

disoblige

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

Did You Know?

Oblige shares some similarities with its close relative obligate, but there are also differences. Oblige derived via Middle English and Anglo-French from Latin obligare ("to bind to"), a combination of ob- ("to or toward") and ligare ("to bind"), whereas obligate descended directly from the past participle of obligare. Both oblige and obligate are frequently used in their past participle forms to express a kind of legal or moral constraint. Obligated once meant "indebted for a service or favor," but today it typically means "required to do something because the law requires it or because it is the right thing to do." Obliged is now the preferred term for the sense that Southern author Flannery O'Connor used in a 1952 letter: "I would be much obliged if you would send me six copies."

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The president likes to be the center of attention, and the media likes nothing more than to oblige him. Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ, "The Democratic Crackup," 7 Mar. 2019 Tallulah Bankhead once dived fully clothed into the pool; her beaded dress weighed her down, obliging her to ditch the garment and emerge from the water naked. Lesley M.m. Blume, Town & Country, "Inside Frank Gehry's Overhaul of Garden of Allah, L.A.’s Most Infamous Corner," 25 Feb. 2019 Debunking will do no good — but ethics obliges us to least try. Laurie Penny, Longreads, "Peterson’s Complaint," 12 July 2018 Shakoor obliges them with burgers and other fusion food like a quesadilla with lamb, in addition to excellent, juicy grilled chicken with rice, gyros and fresh from-scratch falafel fried to order. Kate Washington, sacbee, "Halal cuisine has blossomed around Sacramento. Here's a rundown of places to check out," 29 June 2018 The Visegrad countries resist any attempt to oblige them to share the burden. The Economist, "An emergency EU summit makes little progress on migration," 24 June 2018 The reconciliation law does not oblige them to make public apologies or even to publicly reveal their crimes. Lilia Blaise, New York Times, "Tunisia Truth Commission Brings One Court Case in Four Years," 6 June 2018 On Wednesday, Scherzer possessed the stuff to put on a pitching clinic, and the struggling Orioles offense — which has scored three runs or fewer in 12 of its past 14 games — obliged him. Eduardo A. Encina, baltimoresun.com, "Orioles are shut out again, 2-0, swept at home by Nationals; losing streak at five games," 30 May 2018 Republicans passed this bill partially in hopes that Democrats would be baited into running against tax cuts and for raising taxes, and Pelosi seems to be obliging them. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, "Nancy Pelosi keeps giving the GOP talking points," 8 May 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about oblige

Listen to Our Podcast about oblige

Statistics for oblige

Last Updated

17 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for oblige

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for oblige

oblige

verb

English Language Learners Definition of oblige

: to force or require (someone or something) to do something because of a law or rule or because it is necessary
: to do something that someone has asked you to do : to do a favor for (someone)

oblige

verb
\ 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, Dr. Dolittle
3 : to earn the gratitude of You will oblige me by coming early.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on oblige

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for oblige

Spanish Central: Translation of oblige

Nglish: Translation of oblige for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of oblige for Arabic Speakers

Comments on oblige

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

WORD OF THE DAY

using a distributed computer network

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?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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