1

ought

auxiliary verb \ ˈȯt \
|Updated on: 16 Jun 2018

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

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


2

ought

verb \ ˈȯ(ḵ)t \

Definition of ought

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

noun \ ˈȯt \

Definition of ought

: moral obligation : duty

First Known Use of ought

1678

in the meaning defined above

See Words from the same year
NEW! Time Traveler

4

ought

\ ˈȯt , ˈät \

Definition of ought

  • archaic spelling of


OUGHT Defined for English Language Learners

ought

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

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

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to emit the high shrill tone of bagpipes

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a-closeup-of-a-sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
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!