When you've done your duty, you've done what you're supposed to and met your responsibilities. Your sense of duty as a citizen might compel you to vote; it might also keep you from voting twice.

A duty is an obligation, and we get new duties with new positions in life, like taking a job, or becoming a parent. You didn't realize one of your duties as club president would be cleaning up after meetings. A police officer or cab driver can be on-duty or off-duty. As an off-duty police officer, you might still feel it's your duty to stop a robbery. Duty also means "tax," which is why people like shopping duty-free at the airport.

Definitions of duty
  1. noun
    the social force that binds you to the courses of action demanded by that force
    “we must instill a sense of duty in our children”
    “"every possession, a duty"- John D.Rockefeller Jr”
    synonyms: obligation, responsibility
    see moresee less
    show 21 types...
    hide 21 types...
    the responsibility to do something
    guardianship, keeping, safekeeping
    the responsibility of a guardian or keeper
    moral obligation
    an obligation arising out of considerations of right and wrong
    noblesse oblige
    the obligation of those of high rank to be honorable and generous (often used ironically)
    burden of proof
    the duty of proving a disputed charge
    civic duty, civic responsibility
    the responsibilities of a citizen
    filial duty
    duty of a child to its parents
    some duty that is essential and urgent
    a duty that is incumbent upon you
    legal duty
    acts which the law requires be done or forborne
    line of duty
    all that is normally required in some area of responsibility
    white man's burden
    the supposed responsibility of the white race to provide care for their non-white subjects
    prerequisite, requirement
    something that is required in advance
    demand, requirement
    required activity
    custody, hands
    (with `in') guardianship over; in divorce cases it is the right to house and care for and discipline a child
    jury duty
    the civic duty to serve on a jury
    fiduciary duty
    the legal duty of a fiduciary to act in the best interests of the beneficiary
    obedience, respect
    behavior intended to please your parents
    a condition that is a prerequisite
    academic requirement
    a requirement for admission to or completion of an academic program
    essential condition, sine qua non
    a prerequisite
    type of:
    social control
    control exerted (actively or passively) by group action
  2. noun
    work that you are obliged to perform for moral or legal reasons
    “the duties of the job”
    see moresee less
    show 17 types...
    hide 17 types...
    chore, job, task
    a specific piece of work required to be done as a duty or for a specific fee
    function, office, part, role
    the actions and activities assigned to or required or expected of a person or group
    assignment, duty assignment
    a duty that you are assigned to perform (especially in the armed forces)
    ball-breaker, ball-buster
    a job or situation that is demanding and arduous and punishing
    an individual's prescribed share of work
    a specified function
    an informal term for a person's role
    the role of the head of a government department
    lieu, place, position, stead
    the post or function properly or customarily occupied or served by another
    second fiddle
    a secondary role or function
    guard, guard duty, sentry duty, sentry go
    the duty of serving as a sentry
    fatigue, fatigue duty
    labor of a nonmilitary kind done by soldiers (cleaning or digging or draining or so on)
    charge, commission, mission
    a special assignment that is given to a person or group
    assignment to a different duty
    sea-duty, service abroad, shipboard duty
    naval service aboard a ship at sea
    shore duty
    naval service at land bases
    scut work
    trivial, unrewarding, tedious, dirty, and disagreeable chores
    type of:
    activity directed toward making or doing something
  3. noun
    a government tax on imports or exports
    “they signed a treaty to lower duties on trade between their countries”
    synonyms: tariff
    see moresee less
    show 10 types...
    hide 10 types...
    custom, customs, customs duty, impost
    money collected under a tariff
    tonnage, tonnage duty, tunnage
    a tax imposed on ships that enter the US; based on the tonnage of the ship
    a tax on various goods brought into a town
    revenue tariff
    a tariff imposed to raise revenue
    protective tariff
    a tariff imposed to protect domestic firms from import competition
    import duty
    a duty imposed on imports
    export duty
    a duty imposed on exports
    countervailing duty
    a duty imposed to offset subsidies by foreign governments
    ship money
    an impost levied in England to provide money for ships for national defense
    anti-dumping duty
    a tariff imposed to prevent dumping
    type of:
    indirect tax
    a tax levied on goods or services rather than on persons or organizations
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week