Obliged vs Obligated: What’s The Difference?

Obliged and obligated sound similar enough to be mistaken for each other. This article will help clear the different meanings and different English usages up and give you confidence in their use in the English language. 

Obliged means to be indebted to someone for something they did for you or gave you. Obligate means to require someone to do something legally or morally and is common in American English. Obliged is more commonly used in British English today, although both are correct and have a slight variance in meaning. They both come from the verb “oblige” whose etymology includes the Latin obligare and Old French obliger. 

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What Is the Definition of the Words Obliged and Obligated?

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English:

Obligate — Transitive Verb

(Past Tense) Obligated (Past Participle Form) Obligating (Present Participle/Gerund)

  • to bind or oblige within the legal context or moral connotations or with a moral duty
  • to obligate oneself to purchase a building.
  • To pledge, commit, or bind (funds, property, etc.) to meet an obligation.
  • Morally or legally bound; obliged; constrained.
  • Necessary, essential.
  • Biology. restricted to a particular condition of life, as certain organisms that can survive only in the absence of oxygen (opposed to facultative):
    • obligate anaerobe.

Oblige — Transitive Verb

(Past Tense) Obliged (Past Participle Form) Obliging (Present Participle/Gerund)

  •  to constrain by physical, moral, or legal force or by the exigencies of circumstance; a moral obligation
    • obliged to find a job
    • felt obliged to share it with her
    • to put in one’s debt by a favor or service
  • We are much obliged for your help.
    • to do a favor for
  • always ready to oblige a friend
    • to do something as or as if as a favor
  • When he was asked for advice, he obliged.

Synonyms for Obliged

  • Constrain
  • Restrict
  • Bind
  • Force
  • Restrain
  • Astrict 

Example Sentences of the Words in Context


You should now know more than you will ever need to know on the words obliged and obligated. When you begin to write one of these two words next, you will be sure to use the correct one. 


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  2. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/obligated?s=t
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