• WordNet 3.6
    • n duty work that you are obliged to perform for moral or legal reasons "the duties of the job"
    • n duty the social force that binds you to the courses of action demanded by that force; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty"- John D.Rockefeller Jr "we must instill a sense of duty in our children","every right implies a responsibility"
    • n duty a government tax on imports or exports "they signed a treaty to lower duties on trade between their countries"
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Additional illustrations & photos:

A Jamestown sentry on duty shouldering his heavy matchlock musket. (Conjectural sketch by Sidney E. King.) A Jamestown sentry on duty shouldering his heavy matchlock musket. (Conjectural sketch by Sidney E. King.)

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: During WWII, because a lot of players were called to duty, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles combined to become The Steagles
    • Duty Hence, any assigned service or business; as, the duties of a policeman, or a soldier; to be on duty. "With records sweet of duties done.""To employ him on the hardest and most imperative duty .""Duty is a graver term than obligation. A duty hardly exists to do trivial things; but there may be an obligation to do them."
    • Duty Respect; reverence; regard; act of respect; homage. "My duty to you."
    • Duty Specifically, obedience or submission due to parents and superiors.
    • Duty (Com) Tax, toll, impost, or customs; excise; any sum of money required by government to be paid on the importation, exportation, or consumption of goods.
    • Duty That which a person is bound by moral obligation to do, or refrain from doing; that which one ought to do; service morally obligatory. "Forgetting his duty toward God, his sovereign lord, and his country."
    • Duty That which is due; payment. "When thou receivest money for thy labor or ware, thou receivest thy duty ."
    • Duty (Engin) The efficiency of an engine, especially a steam pumping engine, as measured by work done by a certain quantity of fuel; usually, the number of pounds of water lifted one foot by one bushel of coal (94 lbs. old standard), or by 1 cwt. (112 lbs., England, or 100 lbs., United States).
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
  • Interesting fact: There are some hospitals in Shanghai that have issued a rule that a nurse must wear lipstick while on duty
    • n duty Obligatory service; that which ought to be done; that which one is bound by natural, moral, or legal obligation to do or perform.
    • n duty The obligation to do something; the binding or obligatory force of that which is morally right: as, when duty calls, one must obey.
    • n duty Due obedience; submission; compliant or obedient service.
    • n duty A feeling of obligation, or an act manifesting such feeling; an expression of submissive deference or respectful consideration.
    • n duty Any requisite procedure, service, business, or office; that which one ought to do; particularly, any stated service or function: as, the duties of one's station in life; to go or be on duty; the regiment did duty in Flanders.
    • n duty In mech., the number of foot-pounds of work done per bushel or per hundredweight of fuel consumed: as, the duty of a steam-engine.
    • n duty That which is due; an obligation; compensation; dues.
    • n duty A tax or impost; excise or customs dues; the sum of money levied by a government upon certain articles, specifically on articles imported or exported: as, the stamp duty of Great Britain; the legacy duty; the duties on sugar; ad valorem and specific duties.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: From the Middle Ages up until the end of the 19th century, barbers performed a number of medical duties including bloodletting, wound treatment, dentistry, minor operations and bone-setting. The barber's striped red pole originated in the Middle Ages, when it was a staff the patient would grip while the barber bled the patient.
    • n Duty dū′ti that which is due: what one is bound by any obligation to do: obedience: military service: respect or regard: one's proper business: tax on goods
    • ***


  • Oscar Wilde
    “If property had simply pleasures, we could stand it; but its duties make it unbearable. In the interest of the rich we must get rid of it.”
  • George Eliot
    “We must find our duties in what comes to us, not in what might have been.”
  • John D. Rockefeller
    “I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity an obligation; every possession, a duty.”
  • Mahatma Gandhi
    “Rights that do not flow from duty well performed are not worth having.”
  • James A. Froude
    “In everyday things the law of sacrifice takes the form of positive duty.”
  • Winston Churchill
    “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.”


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
From Due
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Formed from Anglo-Fr. deu or due (mod. Fr. ) and suffix -ty. See Due (1).


In literature:

Permit me to say that you should do your duty without regard to consequences.
"Outward Bound" by Oliver Optic
I cannot, without an apparent want of respect and duty, give expression to what I know and feel.
"The Black Baronet; or, The Chronicles Of Ballytrain The Works of William Carleton, Volume One" by William Carleton
It was all well enough when they were drunk or on duty, but they weren't drunk or on duty now.
"Valentine M'Clutchy, The Irish Agent The Works of William Carleton, Volume Two" by William Carleton
Her chaperone declared herself "worn out" and unable to continue her arduous duties much longer.
"The Lost Lady of Lone" by E.D.E.N. Southworth
Perhaps the tiny lady had some faint idea of the duties and responsibilities of wealth and station.
"For Woman's Love" by Mrs. E. D. E. N. Southworth
But duties of exculpation were now incumbent on me.
"Memoir, Correspondence, And Miscellanies, From The Papers Of Thomas Jefferson" by Thomas Jefferson
Perhaps it is the peculiar duty of associated bodies, to undertake these experiments.
"Memoir, Correspondence, And Miscellanies, From The Papers Of Thomas Jefferson" by Thomas Jefferson
Security of Englishmen's Lives, or the Duty of Grand Juries.
"Memoir, Correspondence, And Miscellanies, From The Papers Of Thomas Jefferson" by Thomas Jefferson
To know as much of it as we could was our duty, but not to encourage it.
"Memoir, Correspondence, And Miscellanies, From The Papers Of Thomas Jefferson" by Thomas Jefferson
You have both got other duties, inexorable duties.
"Sunrise" by William Black

In poetry:

But duty calls, and I must go,
E'en now, with outstretch'd hand,
I take a sad, sad leave of thee,
To dwell in distant land.
"Farewell" by Thomas Frederick Young
In thee, let joy with duty join,
And strength unite with love,
The eagle's pinions folding round
The warm heart of the dove!
"On Receiving An Eagle's Quill From Lake Superior" by John Greenleaf Whittier
Stranger and pilgrim! from that day
Of meeting, first and last,
Wherever Duty's pathway lay,
His reverent steps have passed.
"William Forster" by John Greenleaf Whittier
The smiling field
Its harvests yield,
The brooks with waters flow;
Then let's rejoice
With cheerful voice,
And on to duty go!
"To Spring" by Benjamin Cutler Clark
No trumpet sounded in his ear,
He saw not Sinai's cloud and flame,
But never yet to Hebrew seer
A clearer voice of duty came.
"Sumner" by John Greenleaf Whittier
"Oh, elderly man, it's little I know
Of the duties of men of the sea,
And I'll eat my hand if I understand
However you can be
"The Yarn of the Nancy Bell" by William Schwenck Gilbert

In news:

The town manager is assigned the duty of assessing whether actions taken by an officer are grounds for discipline or discharge.
New Hampshire Fire Chief Dies While on Duty.
2009 Sema Show Ford Super Duty.
Last week Tony was on vacation from his weather duties, but he used his time off to visit two special festivals.
Ad agency Ant Farm used game animation techniques to create a Jeep campaign set inside Activision's 'Call of Duty.'.
BOGOTA — A judge has recommended that the borough's only female police officer be relieved of her duties, NorthJersey.com reports.
Michael Boley has the 'Call of Duty'.
But you may not find a bigger Call of Duty fan than Giants linebacker Michael Boley .
A full-charge bookkeeper has additional duties, perhaps preparing monthly or quarterly financial statements.
Corporal is ready for duty.
The PBM-135 from Mighty Viper from Mighty USA is a precision CNC horizontal boring and milling machine featuring a built-in, heavy-duty rotary table.
Putting her topless photo scandal aside for the sake of royal duty, Kate Middleton put on a harness and helmet and was hoisted into a tree in a Borneo rainforest.
Sgt Craig D Bosse has arrived for duty for a one year tour at Osan Air Base, Korea.
This autobank safe, complete with biometric finger reader, dispenses starting tills and change to cashiers going on duty.
Electrical contractors pull double duty with structured cabling services divisions.

In science:

We estimate that a periodic QSO phase with duty cycle ≈2 –8% would be sufficient to bring star-forming galaxies onto the local MBH /M⋆ relation.
Concurrent Supermassive Black Hole and Galaxy Growth: Linking Environment and Nuclear Activity in z = 2.23 H-alpha Emitters
The emission efficiency (ratio of the energy emitted as fluorescence light to the deposited one) is poor (less than 1%), therefore observations can only be done on clear moonless nights (which results in an average 10% duty cycle) and low energy showers can hardly be observed.
Physics of Extremely High Energy Cosmic Rays
The 10% duty cycle of the fluorescence detectors will therefore hinder their use for this purpose.
Physics of Extremely High Energy Cosmic Rays
The aperture of the detector has to be convoluted with its duty-cycle (10%), and is energy-dependent (far showers can be reconstructed only if they are in the higher energy range).
Physics of Extremely High Energy Cosmic Rays
The detector is designed to be fully efficient for showers with energies of 10 EeV and above, with a duty-cycle of 100%.
Physics of Extremely High Energy Cosmic Rays