The Meaning of Obliged: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of obliged? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word obliged, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word obliged mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language as well as other dictionaries like American Heritage and Collins English Dictionary, the word obliged is an adjective formed from the past participle of the intransitive verb oblige. This can also be used as one of many transitive verbs. The word obliged means constrained by a physical, moral, or legal force, or conscience, necessity, or circumstance. You may hear this word in the phrase much obliged, or in the concept of law or technical discussions to refer to an external force creating legal obligation. The noun form of obliged is obligation. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today. You never know, it might become one of your new favorites! 

Many different languages also contain words that mean obliged. You may notice that some of these words look similar or the same as the word obliged. These cognates are often formed when two words or languages have the same root word or language of origin. This list of translations is provided by Word Sense

  •  Polish: zobligowany‎ (masc.), zobowiązany‎ (masc.)
  •  Romanian: obligat‎
  •  Dutch: verschuldigd‎, verplicht‎
  •  Lojban: bilga‎
  •  Portuguese: obrigado‎ (masc.)
  •  Finnish: velvollinen‎
  •  Russian: обя́занный‎ (masc.)
  •  German: verpflichtet‎
  •  Italian: obligato‎
  •  Norwegian: forpliktet‎

How can the word obliged be used in a sentence?

The word obliged can be used in many different sentences in American English usage. Using words in a sentence is a great way to remember their definition. You can also try making flashcards or making quizzes for yourself. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today. Below are many examples of obliged. 

The soloist singer felt obliged to do an encore in response to the round of applause at the Los Angeles Stadium. She had never had such an amazing response from an audience, and was excited that they wanted to hear more. 

The man felt obliged by morality to return the large sum of money that he found. Little did he know, there was also a reward for him returning the money by the deadline. He ended up walking out with more money than he had found. 

The instructor felt obliged to give quizzes to her students. The ancestors of teachers before her would get a definite impression of laziness if she did not. However, the teacher did not believe that exams and quizzes were the right way to teach students. 

The unhappy applicant believed that the apartment complex was obliged by legality to return the fees. However, due to the form that he had signed, they were not legally obligated to return the application fee. 

I felt obliged to report the inappropriate comment from Mac to the board. It was likely that I was not the only person he had made inappropriate comments to. That it was my responsibility to make sure he was removed from the board so he could never harass any person ever again.

The teacher felt obliged to teach her students about different dialects that one might find in the Spanish language. She believed that Spanish varied greatly between different countries, so she should try to teach as much as she could.

What is the origin of the word obliged?

According to Etymonline, the word obliged has been used since the 1540s as the past participle adjective of oblige. In the mid-14th century, the word obliged meant to be bound by or liable for the payment of. The word oblige has been used since the year 1300 as the Middle English obligen, meaning to bind by oath or put under moral or legal obligation. This comes from the Old French obligier/Old French obliger meaning to engage one’s faith or pledge. This comes from the Latin obligāre/Latin obligare meaning to bind or bind up. This comes from the prefix ob and the Latin ligāre/ligare meaning to bing, from Proto-Indo-European roots.

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word obliged?

There are many different words that a person can use in place of the word obliged. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same definition as another word or phrase. Synonyms are useful to know if you are trying to avoid repeating yourself as well as if you are looking to expand your vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word obliged is provided by Thesaurus.

  •  compelled
  •  forced
  •  duty-bound
  •  bounden
  •  urged
  •  enslaved
  •  bound
  •  tied
  •  required
  •  obligated
  •  committed
  •  under obligation
  •  contracted
  •  indebted
  •  indentured
  •  pledged
  •  called by duty

There are also a number of words that mean the opposite of the word obliged. These are called antonyms. Antonyms are another easy way to work on expanding your vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word obliged is provided by Thesaurus.

  •  facultative
  •  no strings attached
  •  voluntary
  •  noncompulsory
  •  not required
  •  unforced
  •  discretional
  •  alternative
  •  discretionary
  •  volitional
  •  up to the individual
  •  arbitrary
  •  free
  •  optional
  •  open
  •  possible
  •  nonobligatory
  •  extra
  •  unrestricted
  •  elective

Overall, the word obliged means to be obligated to. This comes from the verb obliged, which means to be constrained by a physical, moral, or legal force. This word has a Latin root, the Latin obligo/ligo, and has been used since the 1500s or 1600s. Clear this word frequently in the American English language. Try making a flash card with the definition of the word obliged, or using it in a sentence to memorize its definition. 


  1. obliged: meaning, translation, synonyms | Word Sense 
  2. obliged | Origin and meaning of obliged | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  3. OBLIGED Synonyms: 16 Synonyms & Antonyms for OBLIGED | Thesaurus 
  4. OPTIONAL Synonyms: 21 Synonyms & Antonyms for OPTIONAL | Thesaurus 
  5. Oblige | Definition of Oblige | Merriam-Webster