1

ought

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auxiliary verb \ ˈȯt \

Definition of ought

used to express obligation
  • ought to pay our debts
, advisability
  • ought to take care of yourself
, natural expectation
  • ought to be here by now
, or logical consequence
  • the result ought to be infinity

Origin and Etymology of ought

Middle English oughte (1st & 3rd singular present indicative), from oughte, 1st & 3rd singular past indicative & subjunctive of owen to own, owe — more at owe


2

ought

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verb \ ˈȯ(ḵ)t \

Definition of ought

transitive verb
1 chiefly Scotland :possess
2 chiefly Scotland :owe

Recent Examples of ought from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of ought

Middle English oughte, 1st & 3rd singular past indicative of owen


3

ought

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noun \ ˈȯt \

Definition of ought

:moral obligation :duty

First Known Use of ought

1678


4

ought

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\ ˈȯt , ˈät \

Definition of ought

  • archaic spelling of


OUGHT Defined for English Language Learners

ought

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verb

Definition of ought for English Language Learners

  • —used to indicate what is expected

  • —used to say or suggest what should be done


OUGHT Defined for Kids

ought

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helping verb \ ˈȯt \

Definition of ought for Students

1 used to show duty
  • You ought to obey your parents.
2 used to show what it would be wise to do
  • You ought to take care of that cough.
3 used to show what is naturally expected
  • They ought to be here by now.
4 used to show what is correct
  • You ought to get nine for the answer.


Seen and Heard

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