verb (3rd singular present and past ought)[with infinitive]
- As former British countries got their independence, then there was a feeling of duty that we ought to do something to help.
- I mean, they are doing yeoman duty and we ought to thank every one of them for putting their lives on the line.
- It happened at a time when he was serving his country, and he served it very ably and very well, as a volunteer in the Navy SEALS, and we ought to respect that.
- At the same time, surely we ought to expect at least some standard of rationality from our governors.
- My legs are not so cold now, though they probably ought to be.
- That's a job for the public-relations experts: They can explain away operations that probably ought to be changed.
- My personal advice is they ought to take a hard look at the situation they are in, and it would be probably better for them to start leaving or making plans to leave.
- Wherever you're fishing in Denmark, you really ought to get hands-on advice at one or both of the excellent tackle shops in central Copenhagen.
- I think that member ought to take the advice of his own leader.
Old English āhte, past tense of āgan 'owe' (see owe).
The verb ought is a modal verb and this means that, grammatically, it does not behave like ordinary verbs. In particular, the negative is formed with the word not alone and not also with auxiliary verbs such as do or have. Thus the standard construction for the negative is he ought not to have gone. The alternative forms he didn’t ought to have gone and he hadn’t ought to have gone, formed as if ought were an ordinary verb rather than a modal verb, are found in dialect from the 19th century but are not acceptable in standard modern English.
- For aught that I can tell, it went really well, particularly after I got on to the second roll, which I used to shoot, among other things, the crowd of avid onlookers for whom the result of the match seemed to matter so much.
- If aught else were said we should only be laughed at.
- The old saying is probably right: you don't get aught for naught.
mid 19th century: perhaps from an ought, by wrong division of a nought; compare with adder1.