from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Morally or legally constraining; binding.
  • adj. Imposing or recording an obligation: a bill obligatory.
  • adj. Of the nature of an obligation; compulsory: Attendance is obligatory. Mathematics is an obligatory course.
  • adj. Biology Obligate.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Imposing obligation, morally or legally; binding: an obligatory promise.
  • adj. Requiring a matter or obligation.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Binding in law or conscience; imposing duty or obligation; requiring performance or forbearance of some act; -- often followed by on or upon.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Imposing obligation; binding in law or conscience; imposing duty; requiring performance of or forbearance from some act: followed by on before the person, formerly by to.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. required by obligation or compulsion or convention
  • adj. morally or legally constraining or binding


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin obligare obligate, from ob- to + ligare to bind, from Proto-Indo-European *leig- to bind.


  • As such it shares with them certain obligatory objectives requiring the Court of Auditors and the other Institutions to "aim to promote its values, advance its objectives, serve its interests, those of its citizens and those of the Member States, and ensure the consistency, effectiveness and continuity of its policies and actions".

    Archive 2007-08-12

  • Now, whichever of those groups he takes up he must take certain obligatory subjects.

    The Universities and Commerce

  • Arabic theology before him -- between those commandments and prohibitions in the Bible which the reason itself approves as right or condemns as wrong -- the rational commandments -- and those which to the reason seem indifferent, and which revelation alone characterizes as obligatory, permitted or forbidden -- the so-called "traditional commandments."

    A History of Mediaeval Jewish Philosophy

  • The minister said about BRL15.8 billion in cuts would come from so-called obligatory spending, which are those items such as salaries and jobs.

    Brazil's Finance Chief Calls for Spending Cuts

  • There was a quick clip of Obama's speech and then the famous moneygall shot of Obama drinking his pint, which Williams described as the obligatory pint of Guinness in the Dublin brewery.

    John Lee: Obama in Ireland Gets Pint's Worth of Coverage in U.S.

  • How much less appealing is the notion of obligatory generosity.

    Forced Merriment: The True Spirit of Christmas

  • While a federal judge struck down important parts of Arizona's draconian immigration law today, namely the obligatory police check of immigration status, the battle over Arizona's immigration crisis has hardly come to a screeching halt.

    Jeff Biggers: Darkness at Noon in Arizona: Delayed, But Not Over

  • Some philosophers (like Nahmanides) follow the former reading, arguing that moral acts of piety or charity are obligatory, that is to say duties that apply to everybody.

    How to Kill a Missionary

  • Or, in the alternative, the distinction can be made within the divine will: one might characterize as obligatory those actions that God wills that one perform, and as supererogatory those actions that God wills that one perform if one is willing to do so, so that if one performs the action, one is doing what God wills, but if one does not, one is not doing what God wills that one not do.

    Theological Voluntarism

  • "It is essential to draw a clear distinction between obedience to an order or rule and recognition that the rule or order is obligatory, that is, that the order ought to be obeyed .... but obedience to an order merely because of the fear of sanctions is nothing more than reaction to naked force and we will seek to avoid obedience wherever possible."

    The State and the Individual


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.