AskDefine | Define obligation

Dictionary Definition

obligation

Noun

1 the social force that binds you to your obligations and the courses of action demanded by that force; "we must instill a sense of duty in our children"; "every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty"- John D.Rockefeller Jr [syn: duty, responsibility]
2 the state of being obligated to do or pay something; "he is under an obligation to finish the job"
3 a personal relation in which one is indebted for a service or favor
4 a legal agreement specifying a payment or action and the penalty for failure to comply

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

From Latin obligatio, from obligatum (past participle of obligare), from ob- to + ligare to bind, from .

Pronunciation

Noun

  1. The act of binding oneself by a social, legal, or moral tie to someone.
  2. A social, legal, or moral requirement, duty, contract, or promise that compels someone to follow or avoid a particular course of action.
  3. A course of action imposed by society, law, or conscience by which someone is bound or restricted.
  4. A legal agreement stipulating a specified payment or action; the document containing such agreement.
act of binding oneself by a social, legal, or moral tie to someone
  • Finnish: sitoutuminen
  • Hungarian: kötelezettség
  • Russian: обязательство
social, legal, or moral requirement
  • Czech: závazek
  • Finnish: velvollisuus
  • Hungarian: lekötelezettség
  • Russian: обязанность
course of action imposed by society, law, or conscience
  • Finnish: velvollisuus
  • Hungarian: kötelesség
  • Russian: обязанность
legal agreement
  • Finnish: sitoumus
  • Russian: обязательство
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Extensive Definition

An obligation is a requirement to take some course of action. It can be legal or moral. There are also obligations in other normative contexts, such as obligations of etiquette, social obligations, and possibly the In terms of politics, obligations are requirements that are to fulfill. These are generally in the form of legal obligations, which incur a penalty for lack of fulfillment, although certain people are obliged to carry out certain actions for other reasons as well, which can be due to tradition or social reasons. Obligations vary from person to person, for example, a person holding a political office will generally have far more obligations than an average adult citizen, who themselves will have more obligations than a child. Obligations are generally granted in return for an increase in an individual’s rights or power.

Legal

Common obligations of citizens include a requirement to participate as a juror if called upon and to pay taxes, which is seen as a return for the right to participate in the electoral process and the financial and physical protection by the state. Another example, though not a common law obligation, is the US Constitutional requirement to participate in a census every ten years, which, like many legal obligations, often incurs a fine if not completed.

Other uses

The term obligate can also be used in a biological context to refer to species which must occupy a certain niche or behave in a certain way in order to survive. In biology, the opposite of obligated is facultative, meaning a species is able to behave in a certain way and may do so under certain circumstances, but that it can survive without having to perform this certain behavior. For example, species of salamanders in the family Proteidae are obligate paedomorphs, whereas species belonging to the Ambystomatidae are facultative paedomorphs.
obligation in Czech: Závazek
obligation in German: Obliegenheit
obligation in Swedish: Fordringsrätt
obligation in Chinese: 责任

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

accountability, accounts payable, accounts receivable, act of grace, act of kindness, affair, agreement, allegiance, amount due, appreciation, appreciativeness, aptitude, aptness, arrearage, assigned task, attempt, bad debts, benefaction, benefit, benevolence, benignity, bill, bills, blessing, bond, borrowing, boundary condition, bounden duty, burden, business, call, call of duty, catch, cause, chance, charge, charges, chits, clause, coaction, commitment, committal, compulsatory, compulsion, compulsiveness, compulsoriness, compulsory, condition, constraint, contingency, contract, courtesy, covenant, deal, debt, dedication, deference, demand, devoir, devotion, donnee, due, dues, duress, duties and responsibilities, duty, effort, enforcement, engagement, enterprise, escalator clause, escape clause, escape hatch, ethics, eventuality, favor, fealty, financial commitment, fine print, floating debt, forcing, funded debt, given, good deed, good offices, good turn, grace, gratefulness, gratitude, grounds, homage, imperative, imperious, indebtedness, indebtment, inevitability, irresistibility, joker, kicker, kind deed, kind offices, kindly act, kindness, labor of love, liability, liableness, likelihood, likeliness, limiting condition, line of duty, loyalty, mandatedness, mandatoriness, maturity, mercy, mission, mitzvah, must, national debt, necessariness, necessitation, necessitude, necessity, need, obligatoriness, obligatory, obligement, office, onus, operation, ought, outstanding debt, parameter, part, place, plan, pledge, possibility, preengagement, prerequisite, probability, program, project, promise, proneness, proposition, provision, provisions, proviso, public debt, recognizance, required, requirement, requisite, respect, responsibility, restraint, right, saving clause, score, self-imposed duty, sense of obligation, service, sine qua non, small print, specification, stipulation, string, task, terms, thankfulness, trust, turn, ultimatum, uncollectibles, understanding, undertaking, unfulfilled pledge, venture, verbal agreement, weakness, whereas, work
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