• WordNet 3.6
    • n obligation 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 obligation a legal agreement specifying a payment or action and the penalty for failure to comply
    • n obligation a written promise to repay a debt
    • n obligation a personal relation in which one is indebted for a service or favor
    • n obligation the state of being obligated to do or pay something "he is under an obligation to finish the job"
    • ***

Additional illustrations & photos:

Obliging Horseman Obliging Horseman
"No, mom; much obliged jest the same." "No, mom; much obliged jest the same."
He was obliged to send Beauty herself in his place He was obliged to send Beauty herself in his place

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: According to company lore, Ole Evinrude, a Norwegian immigrant, got the idea for an outboard motor while on a picnic with his sweetheart Bessie. They were on a small island in Lake Michigan, when Bessie decided she wanted some ice cream. Ole obligingly rowed to shore to get some, but by the time he made it back the ice cream had melted. So Ole built a motor that could be attached to his rowboat, and founded the Evinrude company in 1909.
    • Obligation (Law) A bond with a condition annexed, and a penalty for nonfulfillment. In a larger sense, it is an acknowledgment of a duty to pay a certain sum or do a certain things.
    • Obligation Any act by which a person becomes bound to do something to or for another, or to forbear something; external duties imposed by law, promise, or contract, by the relations of society, or by courtesy, kindness, etc. "Every man has obligations which belong to his station. Duties extend beyond obligation , and direct the affections, desires, and intentions, as well as the actions."
    • Obligation That which obligates or constrains; the binding power of a promise, contract, oath, or vow, or of law; that which constitutes legal or moral duty. "A tender conscience is a stronger obligation than a proson."
    • Obligation The act of obligating.
    • Obligation The state of being obligated or bound; the state of being indebted for an act of favor or kindness; -- often used with under to indicate being in that state; as, to place others under obligations to one.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n obligation The constraining power or authoritative character of a duty, a moral precept, a civil law, or a promise or contract voluntarily made; action upon the will by a sense of moral constraint.
    • n obligation That to which one is bound; that which one is bound or obliged to do, especially by moral or legal claims; a duty.
    • n obligation A claim; a ground of demanding.
    • n obligation The state or fact of being bound or morally constrained by gratitude to requite benefits; moral indebtedness.
    • n obligation In law: A bond containing a penalty, with a condition annexed, for payment of money, performance of covenants, or the like: sometimes styled a writing obligatory. By some modern English jurists the word is used as equivalent to legal duty generally.
    • n obligation In Roman law, the juridical relation between two or more persons in virtue of which one can compel the other to do or not to do a certain act which has a monetary value, or can at least be measured by a monetary standard. It might arise out of delict as well as out of contract. The word is used as well to designate the right as the corresponding duty.
    • n obligation In medieval schools, a rule of disputation by which the opponent was bound to admit any premise, not involving a contradiction, begging of the question, or other fallacy, which the respondent might propose. Disputation, as a game for teaching logic, was a principal part of the scholastic exercises, and perhaps may still be so in some countries. A master presided, and after a sufficient time decided in favor of one of the disputants, who was then obliged to give his adversary a great thwack with a wooden instrument. Modern writers sometimes speak of any rule of scholastic disputation as an obligation.
    • n obligation Synonyms Engagement, contract, agreement.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Obligation act of obliging: the power which binds to a promise, a duty, &c.: any act which binds one to do something for another: that to which one is bound: state of being indebted for a favour:
    • n Obligation (law) a bond containing a penalty in case of failure
    • ***


  • Samuel Butler
    “I reckon being ill as one of the great pleasures of life, provided one is not too ill and is not obliged to work till one is better.”
  • Benjamin Franklin
    “He that has done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.”
  • Pierre De Beaumarchais
    Pierre De Beaumarchais
    “I hasten to laugh at everything, for fear of being obliged to weep.”
  • Voltaire
    “We cannot always oblige; but we can always speak obligingly.”
  • Thomas Hobbes
    “No mans error becomes his own Law; nor obliges him to persist in it.”
  • Source Unknown
    Source Unknown
    “Anyone can be great with money. With money, greatness is not a talent but an obligation. The trick is to be great without money.”


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
F. obligation,. L. obligatio,. See Oblige
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Fr.,—L. obligāre, -ātumob, before, ligāre, to bind.


In literature:

We made a few miles, but were soon obliged to cast anchor once more.
"A Woman's Journey Round the World" by Ida Pfeiffer
The slaves are obliged to work from daylight till dark, as long as they can see.
"The Anti-Slavery Examiner, Part 3 of 4" by American Anti-Slavery Society
Whence can the obligation arise?
"The Anti-Slavery Examiner, Omnibus" by American Anti-Slavery Society
It was my fortune at that time to be obliged to consider my pen as the sole instrument for supplying my current expenses.
"Caleb Williams" by William Godwin
But ask me any thing I can do to oblige you; and I will oblige you, though in nothing will you oblige me.
"Clarissa, Volume 6 (of 9)" by Samuel Richardson
Warm as the day had been, the night was so cold that we were obliged to crowd together for warmth.
"The Swiss Family Robinson; or Adventures in a Desert Island" by Johann David Wyss
Is obliged by her mother to go to a ball at Colonel Ambrose's.
"Clarissa, Volume 7" by Samuel Richardson
The castle of Dreux was obliged to capitulate.
"A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times Volume V. of VI." by Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot
Mr. Steele confesses in his last Volume of the 'Tatlers' that he is obliged to Dr.
"The Spectator, Volumes 1, 2 and 3" by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele
There's no obliging her.
"Clarissa, Or The History Of A Young Lady, Volume 8" by Samuel Richardson

In poetry:

The shepherd and his family,
They were all poisoned like to die,
Except his wife, who sick did lie,
Obliged to rise;
To hear their mournful groans and cries,
Did her surprise.
"The Death Of Thomas Stoddart" by Susannah Hawkins
When in thy infancy thou scarce coud'st move,
And hadst not meat nor drink, nor warm array ;
What then preserv'd thee, but thy mother's love?
Such obligations, how canst thou repay?
"The Duty Of Children To Their Parents" by Rees Prichard
The old man shook with glee,
But he said obligingly,
"The dog days are all gone, I grieve to say;
But since you've come so far,
And so mannerly you are,
I'll give you just an hour--to get away."
"A Valuable Gift" by Carolyn Wells
"Oh, Pat!" she said, "I’ll wed you when
Promotion comes to you!"
"I’m much-obliged," he answered, and
"I’ll see what I can do."
(I may remark he said it thus—
"Oi’ll say phwat Oi kin do.")
"The Romance Of Patrolman Casey" by Ellis Parker Butler
"The obligation's drawn upon the dead!"
Thus laughed the world in scorn;
"The lying one, in league with despots dread,
For truth, a phantom palmed on thee instead,
Thou'lt be no more, when once this dream has gone!"
"Resignation" by Friedrich von Schiller
Lord S.
It will oblige me, child. Do what you can.
Just go and order everything you want.
I will go with you. Ring the bell, my love;
I have a reason for my haste. We'll have
The horses to at once. Come, Gertrude, dear.
"Within and Without: Part IV: A Dramatic Poem" by George MacDonald

In news:

Currently Iowa taxpayers are deducting their federal income tax payments from their state tax obligations.
With City Council approval, JCMG deferred — not eliminated — its obligation to build sidewalks to serve those accessing and passing the site of its newest building.
So naturally these formidable powers were obliged to converge at the White House yesterday.
Some of us do not always agree with the Supreme Court's decisions, but once the court renders a decision we are all obligated to abide by it.
She remains at the center of a controversy over faculty governance and professors' obligations to protect students.
Amazon can oblige with hourly rentals of the world's 42nd fastest supercomputer.
More companies are embracing schedules that allow busy parents to meet obligations at home and at work.
Freely exchangeable for or replaceable by another of like nature or kind in the satisfaction of an obligation: interchangeable.
County obliged to trust voters.
Reprints are just one method for meeting those obligations.
Standard & Poor's lowered its credit rating on New Jersey's debt to AA- from AA, citing concerns about its massive retirement obligations.
If my dueling partner Jonathan Abarbanel wants to throw down about public funding for the arts, I'm happy to oblige him.
Cabbage obliges on St Patrick's Day.
Stockton and San Bernardino have turned to bankruptcy to get out of their obligations to bondholders and retirees.
Divorce obligation wasn't discharged in bankruptcy .

In science:

The entries of this subsequence are not obliged to be the nearest neighbors.
Longest increasing subsequence as expectation of a simple nonlinear stochastic PDE with a low noise intensity
We are obliged to show that the notion above is well defined.
The wave equation on static singular space-times
Note that the metrical and manifold volume measures are not obliged generically to be simultaneously nonzero.
Transition to Zero Cosmological Constant and Phantom Dark Energy as Solutions Involving Change of Orientation of Space-Time Manifold
As we often refer to the bottom invariant interval of S C on L, S C on R, that is, to interval of subgroups which are normalised by some other subgroup, we feel obliged to state the following.
Second maximal subgroups of the finite alternating and symmetric groups
The third relation in (7): L ¯M ′ +M ¯M = Q2(x) obliges M and ¯M to be of degree 1.
Generalized Heun and Lam\'e's equations: factorization