Definition of oblige
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
: to do something as or as if as a favor When he was asked for advice, he obliged.
oblige was our Word of the Day on 04/19/2014. Hear the podcast!
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.
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."
Origin and Etymology of oblige
Middle English, from Anglo-French obliger, from Latin obligare, literally, to bind to, from ob- toward + ligare to bind — more at ligature
First Known Use: 14th century
Synonym Discussion of oblige
OBLIGE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of oblige for English Language Learners
: 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 Defined for Kids
Definition of oblige for Students
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up oblige? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).