Definition of oblige in English:



  • 1 Make (someone) legally or morally bound to an action or course of action.

    ‘doctors are obliged by law to keep patients alive while there is a chance of recovery’
    • ‘In that way it was seen that the medical expenses incurred by the father could also be recovered if the father was legally obliged to pay them.’
    • ‘Women are also obliged to do military service, but are not required to serve in combat units.’
    • ‘We live in a world in which there are many moral laws that people are obliged to conform to.’
    • ‘British law obliges a parent, once his child is registered at a school, to ensure that he attends regularly; any white parent who kept his child away for so long would undoubtedly be prosecuted and punished.’
    • ‘His hands were completely tied on this one, and those who now criticise him for doing what he was legally obliged to do are being unfair in the extreme to him.’
    • ‘Under the new law, parents are obliged to register their new born babies within 60 days of their birth.’
    • ‘A wife is legally obliged to obey her husband, reside where he wishes, and accept his surname.’
    • ‘We are obliged to counsel for their assistance in this matter.’
    • ‘Christian leaders are obliged to protect their citizens, by military force if need be.’
    • ‘The reason for this exemption, according to the reasoning of the bill, is the lack of an international standard and practice obliging such persons to report suspicious operations and transactions.’
    • ‘Doctors and nurses were obliged to attend to patients so they could not be blamed for admitting the patients.’
    • ‘The principal drawback of a limited company is that you are legally obliged to file specific information in the Companies Office.’
    • ‘If the law obliges us to pay our taxes, do the news and the weather, then we will.’
    • ‘The council will launch its annual registration drive at the end of August, and people are legally obliged to respond.’
    • ‘This September, I am legally obliged to renew my driver's licence.’
    • ‘Mr Butterfield was not a blood relative of Lady Hulton, and was not a person for whom she or any other members of the Reynolds' family was morally obliged to provide.’
    • ‘Under the law, we were obliged to publish the paper within three months, failing which the permission would lapse.’
    • ‘The Dudleian lecturers insisted that natural religion pointed to a moral law that men were obliged to follow.’
    • ‘No soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to the law of God.’
    • ‘The children just happened to be the beneficiaries of that exercise that she was legally obliged to provide because she was the mother.’
    • ‘‘I was brought up thinking work is something you are morally obliged to do,’ as one older man put it.’
    require, compel, bind, make, constrain, obligate, force, put under an obligation, leave someone no option, impel, coerce, pressure, pressurize
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    1. 1.1[with object] Do as (someone) asks or desires in order to help or please them.
      ‘oblige me by not being sorry for yourself’
      [no object] ‘tell me what you want to know and I'll see if I can oblige’
      • ‘They asked for Abel as a playmate and companion to begin with and Mr Davis was pleased to oblige.’
      • ‘I obliged lovingly, extremely pleased that the water dragon had come right away.’
      • ‘Dressed in all black and sporting a new look for his next film with Shankar, the actor was his usual calm self, meeting industry colleagues, giving quick television bytes and obliging fans with autographs.’
      • ‘She had been obliged by his threats to seek accommodation elsewhere.’
      • ‘You can mix and match, and the head waiter will be only too pleased to oblige with special offerings, if you ask the day before, at no extra charge.’
      • ‘Photos of interest would be most welcome so if you can oblige please do.’
      • ‘He waits for this to sink in, and I oblige by widening my eyes and licking my chapped lips.’
      • ‘To return to my need: please, can someone oblige with practical advice?’
      • ‘‘If you wish to embrace me, Maria, you know I will be only too pleased to oblige you,’ replied James, his voice low and teasing.’
      • ‘Compilers of match programmes will confirm that as soon as they pick an all-action shot of a striker in full flight he will duly oblige by picking up a groin strain 48 hours before the kick off.’
      • ‘Naturally, her husband was very pleased and only too happy to oblige with the ‘work.’’
      • ‘If someone would kindly oblige by printing a diary bearing the main York bus routes, we shall be delighted to buy some and send them to all our acquaintances in London.’
      • ‘If you don't have a boat, or prefer to make use of local expertise, there are a number of hardboat skippers who will be only too pleased to oblige.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, a lack of research funding and other assistance made it impossible to oblige him, but we had a lively conversation.’
      • ‘The Romanians were happy to tackle all day and the Scots appeared happy to oblige by running at them for the full 80 minutes.’
      • ‘Please oblige by suggesting the proper food style, life style and other things to avoid further blocks.’
      • ‘Certain gestures could also serve as distress signals, obliging fellow Masons to come to the aid of a ‘Brother.’’
      • ‘Nor would the Virgin Queen oblige by naming a successor, but left her ministers to do it in defiance of English laws and at some risk to themselves.’
      • ‘And if there is no one to pass the umbrella on to, Mother Nature can always oblige by helping it fly off in that one strong gust of wind.’
      • ‘Sensing that the umpire didn't share his wicked sense of humour, Gibbs obliged but put his jumper on inside out, hiding his number.’
      do someone a favour, do someone a kindness, do someone a service, accommodate, indulge, gratify, gratify the wishes of, help, assist, serve, humour, meet the needs of, meet the wants of, put oneself out for
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    2. 1.2be obliged Be indebted or grateful.
      ‘if you can give me a few minutes of your time I'll be much obliged’
      • ‘If you or anyone else can help me to sort out the security issues I would be much obliged.’
      • ‘We fail to understand exactly where this humour lies, and would be much obliged if would care to enlighten us.’
      • ‘We are much obliged to all and promise always to do our best to embody human dreams about flying possibilities.’
      • ‘Your Honour, I am obliged and I will return to that, if I may, when we look more closely at the subscription agreement.’
      • ‘Thanks to you, I'm much obliged for such a pleasant stay.’
      • ‘I shall be much obliged if you would give me an opportunity for an interview.’
      thank you, thanks, many thanks, thanks a lot, thanks very much, thank you kindly
      cheers, thanks a million
      thankful, grateful, appreciative
      beholden, indebted, in someone's debt, under an obligation, obligated
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    3. 1.3archaic [with object] Bind (someone) by an oath, promise, or contract.


Middle English (in the sense bind by oath): from Old French obliger, from Latin obligare, from ob- toward + ligare to bind.