\ ˈȯt How to pronounce ought (audio) \

Definition of ought

 (Entry 1 of 4)

used to express obligationought to pay our debts , advisabilityought to take care of yourself , natural expectationought to be here by now , or logical consequencethe result ought to be infinity

ought

verb
\ ˈȯ(ḵ)t How to pronounce ought (audio) \

Definition of ought (Entry 2 of 4)

transitive verb

1 chiefly Scotland : possess
2 chiefly Scotland : owe

ought

noun
\ ˈȯt How to pronounce ought (audio) \

Definition of ought (Entry 3 of 4)

: moral obligation : duty

ought

\ ˈȯt How to pronounce ought (audio) , ˈät \

Definition of ought (Entry 4 of 4)

archaic spelling of

Examples of ought in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Auxiliary verb The folks at Cave Hill ought to be proud of removing the flag. Joseph Gerth, The Courier-Journal, "Gerth: Cave Hill Cemetery right to remove Confederate flag after Breonna Taylor protests," 27 June 2020 This is a week when even Trump ought to have a hard time denying the reality of the disaster the country is facing, and his own political predicament. Susan B. Glasser, The New Yorker, "Trump Retreats to His Hannity Bunker," 26 June 2020 Activists have recently claimed Confederate statues, which pay tribute to leaders such as Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, ought to be removed. Anthony Leonardi, Washington Examiner, "Trump says he signed 'very strong' executive order to protect monuments and statues," 26 June 2020 At the same time, commissioner Rob Manfred was telling the Associated Press that maybe baseball ought to have a couple of dry runs first. Dallas News, "Source: MLB asks Rangers for more time to study how quickly fans should be allowed at games," 25 June 2020 This isn’t to say that the individuals depicted in statues ought to be perfect. Yasmeen Serhan, The Atlantic, "Democratizing the Statue Debate," 25 June 2020 Young thinks the Stone Mountain carving ought to be left in place as a teaching tool about history. Christopher Quinn, ajc, "Andrew Young talks about Confederate monuments, Stone Mountain," 22 June 2020 Flexible economies that can nimbly reallocate resources ought to have an easier time weathering shocks and unlocking the productivity-boosting benefits of new technologies and business models. The Economist, "Free exchange New research casts light on the pandemic’s effects on resource allocation," 20 June 2020 Hypochondriacs ought to keep at least 6 feet away from it. Charley Grant, WSJ, "A Bet on Investors’ Infectious Enthusiasm," 19 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb People ought to think a little bit and think: 'Well, what the hell. Ravi Ubha, CNN, "Lewis Hamilton: 'Sad and disappointing' to read Ecclestone comments," 27 June 2020 The folks at Cave Hill ought to be proud of removing the flag. Joseph Gerth, The Courier-Journal, "Gerth: Cave Hill Cemetery right to remove Confederate flag after Breonna Taylor protests," 27 June 2020 Activists have recently claimed Confederate statues, which pay tribute to leaders such as Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, ought to be removed. Anthony Leonardi, Washington Examiner, "Trump says he signed 'very strong' executive order to protect monuments and statues," 26 June 2020 At the same time, commissioner Rob Manfred was telling the Associated Press that maybe baseball ought to have a couple of dry runs first. Dallas News, "Source: MLB asks Rangers for more time to study how quickly fans should be allowed at games," 25 June 2020 Which means there should be hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people who ought to be capable of returning to normal life without putting themselves or others at risk. Dominique Soguel, The Christian Science Monitor, "'Immunity passports' could help against pandemic – or harm society," 24 June 2020 Young thinks the Stone Mountain carving ought to be left in place as a teaching tool about history. Christopher Quinn, ajc, "Andrew Young talks about Confederate monuments, Stone Mountain," 22 June 2020 Flexible economies that can nimbly reallocate resources ought to have an easier time weathering shocks and unlocking the productivity-boosting benefits of new technologies and business models. The Economist, "Free exchange New research casts light on the pandemic’s effects on resource allocation," 20 June 2020 Hypochondriacs ought to keep at least 6 feet away from it. Charley Grant, WSJ, "A Bet on Investors’ Infectious Enthusiasm," 19 June 2020

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.

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First Known Use of ought

Auxiliary verb

12th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1678, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ought

Auxiliary verb

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

Verb

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

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Time Traveler for ought

Time Traveler

The first known use of ought was in the 12th century

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Statistics for ought

Last Updated

30 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ought.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ought. Accessed 9 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for ought

ought

verb
How to pronounce ought (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of ought

used to indicate what is expected
used to say or suggest what should be done

ought

helping verb
\ ˈȯt How to pronounce ought (audio) \

Kids Definition of ought

1 used to show dutyYou ought to obey your parents.
2 used to show what it would be wise to doYou ought to take care of that cough.
3 used to show what is naturally expectedThey ought to be here by now.
4 used to show what is correctYou ought to get nine for the answer.

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More from Merriam-Webster on ought

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ought

Spanish Central: Translation of ought

Nglish: Translation of ought for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ought for Arabic Speakers

Comments on ought

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