Definitions

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

  • n. The act of binding oneself by a social, legal, or moral tie.
  • n. A social, legal, or moral requirement, such as a duty, contract, or promise that compels one to follow or avoid a particular course of action.
  • n. A course of action imposed by society, law, or conscience by which one is bound or restricted.
  • n. The constraining power of a promise, contract, law, or sense of duty.
  • n. Law A legal agreement stipulating a specified payment or action, especially if the agreement also specifies a penalty for failure to comply.
  • n. Law The document containing the terms of such an agreement.
  • n. Something owed as payment or in return for a special service or favor.
  • n. The service or favor for which one is indebted to another.
  • n. The state, fact, or feeling of being indebted to another for a special service or favor received.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The act of binding oneself by a social, legal, or moral tie to someone.
  • n. A social, legal, or moral requirement, duty, contract, or promise that compels someone to follow or avoid a particular course of action.
  • n. A course of action imposed by society, law, or conscience by which someone is bound or restricted.
  • n. A legal agreement stipulating a specified payment or action; the document containing such agreement.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of obligating.
  • n. That which obligates or constrains; the binding power of a promise, contract, oath, or vow, or of law; that which constitutes legal or moral duty.
  • n. Any act by which a person becomes bound to do something to or for another, or to forbear something; external duties imposed by law, promise, or contract, by the relations of society, or by courtesy, kindness, etc.
  • n. The state of being obligated or bound; the state of being indebted for an act of favor or kindness; -- often used with under to indicate being in that state.
  • n. A bond with a condition annexed, and a penalty for nonfulfillment. In a larger sense, it is an acknowledgment of a duty to pay a certain sum or do a certain things.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The constraining power or authoritative character of a duty, a moral precept, a civil law, or a promise or contract voluntarily made; action upon the will by a sense of moral constraint.
  • n. That to which one is bound; that which one is bound or obliged to do, especially by moral or legal claims; a duty.
  • n. A claim; a ground of demanding.
  • n. The state or fact of being bound or morally constrained by gratitude to requite benefits; moral indebtedness.
  • n. In law: A bond containing a penalty, with a condition annexed, for payment of money, performance of covenants, or the like: sometimes styled a writing obligatory. By some modern English jurists the word is used as equivalent to legal duty generally.
  • n. In Roman law, the juridical relation between two or more persons in virtue of which one can compel the other to do or not to do a certain act which has a monetary value, or can at least be measured by a monetary standard.
  • n. In medieval schools, a rule of disputation by which the opponent was bound to admit any premise, not involving a contradiction, begging of the question, or other fallacy, which the respondent might propose.
  • n. Synonyms Engagement, contract, agreement.

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

  • n. a personal relation in which one is indebted for a service or favor
  • n. the social force that binds you to the courses of action demanded by that force
  • n. a written promise to repay a debt
  • n. a legal agreement specifying a payment or action and the penalty for failure to comply
  • n. the state of being obligated to do or pay something

Etymologies

From Latin obligatio, from obligatum (past participle of obligare), from ob- to + ligare to bind, from Proto-Indo-European *leig- (“to bind”). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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