\ ə-ˈblīj How to pronounce oblige (audio) \
obliged; obliging

Essential Meaning of oblige

1 : to force or require (someone or something) to do something because of a law or rule or because it is necessary The law obliges the government to release certain documents to the public. Her job obliges her to work overtime and on weekends.
2 : to do something that someone has asked you to do : to do a favor for (someone) She's always ready to oblige her friends. "Thank you for your help." "I'm happy/glad to oblige." They asked for food and he obliged with soup and sandwiches.

Full 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.

Other Words from oblige

obliger noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for oblige



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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

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Oblige shares some similarities with its close relative obligate, but there are also differences. Oblige derives via Middle English and the Anglo-French obliger from Latin obligare ("to bind to"), a combination of ob- ("to or toward") and ligare ("to bind"), whereas obligate descends directly from obligatus, the Latin 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 Berruti loves intense close-ups and Ekberg is happy to oblige, laying it on thick with every variation of fury and anguish. Elle Carroll, Vulture, 6 Dec. 2021 However, when Brian asks if Nick can be in the OR with him, Meredith is more than happy to oblige. Lincee Ray, EW.com, 10 Dec. 2021 In that case, the Longhorns’ first-year coach appeared happy to oblige. Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News, 8 Dec. 2021 If Jacksonville dares the Colts to run, Indianapolis will happily oblige. Joel A. Erickson, The Indianapolis Star, 14 Nov. 2021 Florida should be happy to oblige that style of play, boasting the best rushing attack of any non-service academy team in the country this season at 322.5 yards per game. C.j. Doon, baltimoresun.com, 30 Sep. 2021 This summer, Spain’s government unveiled a crucial draft Audiovisual Communication Services Law aimed at implementing an E.U. directive which in Spain’s case will oblige streaming services to invest in Spanish content. John Hopewell, Variety, 15 Sep. 2021 Butterflying a chicken is easy to do yourself, but feel free to ask your butcher to do it for you; most will oblige. Meredith Deeds Special To The Star Tribune, Star Tribune, 26 May 2021 Beijing, which has set its sights on becoming a science and technology superpower, was happy to oblige. New York Times, 28 Nov. 2021

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 obligen, oblischen "to impose on as a legal or moral duty, bind by oath or contract," borrowed from Anglo-French obliger, borrowed from Latin obligāre "to tie up, restrain by tying, assign, place under a legal or moral constraint, pledge," from ob- "toward, facing" + ligāre "to fasten, bind" — more at ob-, ligature

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Time Traveler for oblige

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

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Last Updated

25 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Oblige.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oblige. Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for oblige


\ ə-ˈblīj How to pronounce oblige (audio) \
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, The Story of Dr. Dolittle
3 : to earn the gratitude of You will oblige me by coming early.

More from Merriam-Webster on oblige

Nglish: Translation of oblige for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of oblige for Arabic Speakers


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