Definition of obligation in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌäbləˈɡāSH(ə)n/


1An act or course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound; a duty or commitment: he has enough cash to meet his present obligations [with infinitive]: I have an obligation to look after her
More example sentences
  • He then requires man to work hard, fulfill his duties and meet his obligations.
  • The activities of political participation and public deliberation, on this view, should not be seen as a burdensome obligation or duty, but rather as intrinsically rewarding.
  • But Miss Mountfield told the judges that the Returning Officer's duty extended beyond an obligation to ‘deliver to the deliverer’.
duty, commitment, responsibility, moral imperative;
function, task, job, assignment, commission, burden, charge, onus, liability, accountability, requirement, debt
literary trust
compulsion, duty, indebtedness;
duress, necessity, pressure, constraint
1.1The condition of being morally or legally bound to do something: they are under no obligation to stick to the scheme
More example sentences
  • Participants in the scheme will be offered the opportunity - but will be under no obligation - to make provision for Yorkshire Cancer Research in their will.
  • The fact is doctors are under no obligation to prolong life indefinitely, and are likewise required to take prospective suffering into account during treatment.
  • The Senate is surely under no obligation to confirm any particular nominee, but after the necessary time for inquiry, it should vote him up or vote him down.
1.2A debt of gratitude for a service or favor: she didn’t want to be under an obligation to him
More example sentences
  • I recognize research and scholarship as a public trust and accept professional service as a societal obligation.
  • Through the proximity of these two verses, the resident alien has been redefined as a neighbor, to whom is due the covenant obligation of love.
  • And the very concept of gratitude or obligation disappears - even the obligation of common decency out of respect for other people.
1.3 Law A binding agreement committing a person to a payment or other action.
Example sentences
  • In the absence of any promise, agreement or obligation to make the payment when he acquired, took possession of or used the money, he had given no consideration within the meaning of the Act.
  • Thus, if the proper law of the payment obligation is country Y, its moratorium will be given effect.
  • The adjudicator's decision, although not finally determinative, may give rise to an immediate payment obligation.



Pronunciation: /-SHənl/ Pronunciation: /-SHnəl/
Example sentences
  • I shall never marry you, or consort with you beyond obligational social proprieties beyond this so called adventure.
  • The idea of ‘property’ in land oscillates between the behavioural, the conceptual and the obligational between competing models of property as a fact, property as a right and property as a responsibility.
  • So by an agreement of the disputing parties, as in obligational disputes, we can impose on it a new signification, and not use it according to its common signification.


Middle English (in the sense 'formal promise'): via Old French from Latin obligatio(n-), from the verb obligare (see oblige).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ob·li·ga·tion

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