\ə-ˈblīj \
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.

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Other Words from oblige

obliger noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for oblige


accommodate, favor



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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

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

And for the most part, this nation has obliged Brooks and his ilk. Drew Magary, GQ, "The Importance of Rudeness," 22 Feb. 2018 When the government seizes land to build infrastructure deemed in the national interest, it is legally obliged to compensate landowners. Fariba Nawa, The Christian Science Monitor, "Turkey's Alevi minority threatened by dam-building plans," 27 Apr. 2018 The Retrievers, who already have a social media relationship with the Cardinals’ minor league affiliate in Springfield and their furry mascot Fetch, were more than happy to oblige. Katherine Fominykh, baltimoresun.com, "UMBC partners with St. Louis Cardinals for All-Star Game Final Vote," 10 July 2018 Even more astonishing, a succession of 20th-century Catholic politicians, from Al Smith to John F. Kennedy and Mario Cuomo, felt obliged to defend their faith long after the putative fall of the Know-Nothing movement. Terry Golway, WSJ, "‘Dagger John’ Review: Calling Bigotry By Its Name," 8 July 2018 The Reveres gathered together near the headstone of their famous relative, happy to oblige. Dugan Arnett, BostonGlobe.com, "For the other Paul Reveres, every day is Patriots Day," 10 May 2018 Corporations were happy to oblige, and their outstanding debt swelled by around two-thirds to more than $8.8 trillion as of the end of 2017. Claire Boston, Bloomberg.com, "BlackRock, BNP Pivot to Mortgage Bonds as Corporates Fade," 3 May 2018 Knowing her penchant for achieving lifelike colors, clients will often request specific palettes, and Kang is happy to oblige. Kristen Bateman, Vogue, "With Lifelike Cacti Cupcakes, This New York Baker Takes Cake Decoration to the Next Level," 5 Mar. 2018 And by law, electronics retailers are obliged to take any e-waste that a consumer brings into the store. Peter Ford, The Christian Science Monitor, "'E-waste': Getting grip on a growing global problem," 9 July 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.

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First Known Use of oblige

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

History and Etymology for oblige

Middle English, from Anglo-French obliger, from Latin obligare, literally, to bind to, from ob- toward + ligare to bind — more at ligature

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Statistics for oblige

Last Updated

15 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for oblige

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

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More Definitions for oblige



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)


\ə-ˈblīj \
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.

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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).


something that serves to warn or remind

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