To oblige is to do something you have to, because you're bound by either good manners or the law.

You are obliged to pay back your student loans, or for your portion of the dinner bill. You may also feel obliged to bring a gift if you're invited to a wedding. You can also tip your cowboy hat and be "much obliged" if someone does you a favor. The French phrase, noblesse oblige means basically that "privilege entails responsibility," or that the wealthy are obliged to do something productive in the world and not just sit around polishing their silver spoons.

Definitions of oblige

v force somebody to do something

compel, obligate
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force, thrust
impose urgently, importunately, or inexorably
make walk
coerce, force, hale, pressure, squeeze
to cause to do through pressure or necessity, by physical, moral or intellectual means :"She forced him to take a job in the city"
compel someone to do something by insistent clamoring
compel or force into a particular state or activity
compel through a sense of shame
apply, enforce, implement
ensure observance of laws and rules
enforce, impose
compel to behave in a certain way
stick, sting
saddle with something disagreeable or disadvantageous
exhibit, march, parade
walk ostentatiously
cause to march or go at a marching pace
turn up the heat, turn up the pressure
apply great or increased pressure
to compel or force or urge relentlessly or exert coercive pressure on, or motivate strongly
overcome or coerce as if by using a heavy club
steamroll, steamroller
bring to a specified state by overwhelming force or pressure
squeeze for
squeeze someone for money, information, etc.
dragoon, railroad, sandbag
compel by coercion, threats, or crude means
terrorise, terrorize
coerce by violence or with threats
bring oneself
cause to undertake a certain action, usually used in the negative
execute, run
carry out a process or program, as on a computer or a machine
carry out the legalities of
Type of:
cause, get, have, induce, make, stimulate
cause to do; cause to act in a specified manner

v bind by an obligation; cause to be indebted

bind, hold, obligate
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bind or secure by a pledge
bind by a contract; especially for a training period
indent, indenture
bind by or as if by indentures, as of an apprentice or servant
tie down
restrain from independence by an obligation
Type of:
have or establish a relationship to

v provide a service or favor for someone

“We had to oblige him”
ignore someone's wishes
Type of:
abide by, comply, follow
act in accordance with someone's rules, commands, or wishes

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