Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To compel or require (someone) to do something, as by circumstance or legality.
  • intransitive verb To make indebted or grateful.
  • intransitive verb To do a service or favor for.
  • intransitive verb To do a service or favor.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To bind; attach; devote.
  • To bind, constrain, or compel by any physical, moral, or legal force or influence; place under the obligation or necessity (especially moral necessity) of doing some particular thing or of pursuing some particular course.
  • To lay under obligation of gratitude, etc., by some act of courtesy or kindness; hence, to gratify; serve; do a service to or confer a favor upon; be of service to; do a kindness or good turn to: as, kindly oblige me by shutting the door; in the passive, to be indebted.
  • Synonyms To force, coerce. To serve, accommodate.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb obsolete To attach, as by a bond.
  • transitive verb To constrain by physical, moral, or legal force; to put under obligation to do or forbear something.
  • transitive verb To bind by some favor rendered; to place under a debt; hence, to do a favor to; to please; to gratify; to accommodate.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive To constrain someone by force or by social, moral or legal means.
  • verb transitive To do someone a service or favour (hence, originally, creating an obligation).
  • verb intransitive To be indebted to someone.
  • verb intransitive To do a service or favour.

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

  • verb provide a service or favor for someone
  • verb bind by an obligation; cause to be indebted
  • verb force somebody to do something

Etymologies

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

[Middle English obligen, from Old French obligier, from Latin obligāre : ob-, to; see ob– + ligāre, to bind; see leig- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old French obliger < Latin obligo, from ob- + ligo.

Examples

  • Perhaps, then, there are times when noblesse oblige is a better principle than mere populism and compromise.

    Feckless Youth

  • Perhaps, then, there are times when noblesse oblige is a better principle than mere populism and compromise.

    Feckless Youth

  • The expression "noblesse oblige" is difficult to define but its implications are precise and clear.

    Philip S. Hench - Banquet Speech

  • He sort of asks these spirits in the house for help and they oblige, which is pretty sweet laughs.

    American Horror Story: What Else Goes Down on Halloween Night?

  • -- That he would not suffer a soldier to handle an axe, but by fire and sword oblige the inhabitants to do it. ...

    Life of George Washington — Volume 01

  • I was more than happy to oblige, which is how my name got on the vow renewal certificate for Justin and Amber Myers of

    canada.com Top Stories

  • I was more than happy to oblige, which is how my name got on the vow renewal certificate for Justin and Amber Myers of

    canada.com Top Stories

  • I was more than happy to oblige, which is how my name got on the vow renewal certificate for Justin and Amber Myers of

    canada.com Top Stories

  • The French have another word, noblesse oblige, which is translated as those who enjoy the advantage of wealth and power have an obligation to protect those who do not have these advantages.

    My Sinchew -

  • This is the reverse of "oblige" vs "obligate", where British English only uses the former, while American English uses the latter back-formation for "compel" and the former for "do a favour for".

    On being orient(at)ed

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