What does oblige mean?

Definitions for oblige

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word oblige.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. compel, oblige, obligateverb

    force somebody to do something

    "We compel all students to fill out this form"

  2. oblige, bind, hold, obligateverb

    bind by an obligation; cause to be indebted

    "He's held by a contract"; "I'll hold you by your promise"

  3. oblige, accommodateverb

    provide a service or favor for someone

    "We had to oblige him"


  1. obligeverb

    To constrain someone by force or by social, moral or legal means.

    I am obliged to report to the police station every week.

  2. obligeverb

    To do someone a service or favour (hence, originally, creating an obligation).

    I am obliged to report to the police station every week.

  3. obligeverb

    To be indebted to someone.

    I am obliged to you for your recent help.

  4. obligeverb

    To do a service or favour.

    The singer obliged with another song.

  5. Etymology: From Old (and modern) French obliger, from Latin obligare, from ob- + ligare ‘bind’.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. To OBLIGEverb

    Etymology: obliger, Fr. obligo, Latin.

    Religion obliges men to the practice of those virtues which conduce to the preservation of our health. John Tillotson.

    The law must oblige in all precepts, or in none. If it oblige in all, all are to be obeyed; if it oblige in none, it has no longer the authority of a law. John Rogers, Serm. 15.

    He that depends upon another, must
    Oblige his honour with a boundless trust. Edmund Waller.

    Since love obliges not, I from this hour
    Assume the right of man’s despotic power. Dryden.

    Vain wretched creature, how art thou misled,
    To think thy wit these godlike notions bred!
    These truths are not the product of thy mind,
    But dropt from heav’n, and of a nobler kind:
    Reveal’d religion first inform’d thy sight,
    And reason saw not, till faith sprung the light.
    Thus man by his own strength to heaven wou’d soar,
    And wou’d not be oblig’d to God for more. Dryden.

    When int’rest calls off all her sneaking train,
    When all th’ oblig’d desert, and all the vain,
    She waits or to the scaffold or the cell. Alexander Pope.

    To those hills we are obliged for all our metals, and with them for all the conveniences and comforts of life. Richard Bentley.

    A great man gets more by obliging his inferiour, than by disdaining him; as a man has a greater advantage by sowing and dressing his ground, than he can have by trampling upon it. Robert South, Sermons.

    Some natures are so sour and so ungrateful, that they are never to be obliged. Roger L'Estrange.

    Happy the people, who preserve their honour
    By the same duties that oblige their prince! Joseph Addison, Cato.


  1. oblige

    To oblige is to compel or require someone to do something as a legal or moral duty, or to do someone a favor or service. It can also mean to make (something) necessary or obligatory.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Obligeverb

    to attach, as by a bond

  2. Obligeverb

    to constrain by physical, moral, or legal force; to put under obligation to do or forbear something

  3. Obligeverb

    to bind by some favor rendered; to place under a debt; hence, to do a favor to; to please; to gratify; to accommodate

  4. Etymology: [OF. obligier, F. obliger, L. obligare; ob (see Ob-) + ligare to bind. See Ligament, and cf. Obligate.]

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Oblige

    ō-blīj′, v.t. to bind or constrain: to bind by some favour rendered, hence to do a favour to.—adj. Ob′ligable, that can be held to a promise or an undertaking: true to a promise or a contract.—n. Ob′ligant, one who binds himself to another to pay or to perform something.—v.t. Ob′ligāte, to constrain: to bind by contract or duty:—pr.p. ob′ligāting; pa.p. ob′ligāted.n. Obligā′tion, 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: (law) a bond containing a penalty in case of failure.—adv. Ob′ligatorily.—n. Ob′ligatoriness.—adj. Ob′ligātory, binding: imposing duty.—ns. Obligee (ob-li-jē′), the person to whom another is obliged; Oblige′ment, a favour conferred.—adj. Oblig′ing, disposed to confer favours: ready to do a good turn.—adv. Oblig′ingly.—ns. Oblig′ingness; Ob′ligor (law), the person who binds himself to another. [Fr.,—L. obligāre, -ātumob, before, ligāre, to bind.]

Editors Contribution

  1. obligeverb

    Parents are obliged to care for their offspring.

    Submitted by db.harmer.dh.dh on July 4, 2022  

  2. oblige

    To provide support where ethical, moral and just.

    They often oblige to ensure unity is the way moving forward.

    Submitted by MaryC on March 12, 2020  

Matched Categories

How to pronounce oblige?

How to say oblige in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of oblige in Chaldean Numerology is: 3

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of oblige in Pythagorean Numerology is: 5

Examples of oblige in a Sentence

  1. Yann Hulin:

    We've had a few client requests here and there, especially for wine bottles, which of course we oblige, but in terms of dishes, it's extremely rare.

  2. Leo Tolstoy:

    I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.

  3. French President Francois Hollande:

    What exists today is no longer enough and there are countries, and I will not name them here because we have to work with all of them, but who are not responding to their moral obligations, europe is a group of principles, of values which oblige us to welcome those who are pushed out and look for refuge because they are persecuted.

  4. Omar Humidan of the GNC:

    The U.N. and Europe cannot oblige us to sit at the table with terrorists, forming a unity government with leaders of extremist movements, as proposed by mediators would... subvert the results of elections and the will of the vast majority of Libyan citizens.

  5. Alexander Hamilton:

    In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men the great difficulty lies in this You must first enable the government to control the governed, and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.

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Translations for oblige

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • obligarCatalan, Valencian
  • einen Gefallen tun, verpflichtenGerman
  • obligarSpanish
  • وادار کردنPersian
  • obliger, rendre service, imposerFrench
  • kötelez, lekötelezHungarian
  • לחייבHebrew
  • 恩義, サービス, 世話, 義務付けるJapanese
  • een plezier doen, verplichtenDutch
  • [[сде́лать]] [[одолже́ние]], [[де́лать]] [[одолже́ние]], [[быть]] [[обязанный, обя́зывать, обяза́тьRussian
  • บังคับThai
  • واجبUrdu
  • oblidjîWalloon
  • 责成Chinese

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"oblige." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 30 Sep. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/oblige>.

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    the act of carrying something
    • A. adventure
    • B. embark
    • C. obligate
    • D. carry

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