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An obligation is a requirement to take some course of action, whether legal or moral. There are also obligations in other normative contexts, such as obligations of etiquette, social obligations, and possibly in terms of politics, where obligations are requirements which must be fulfilled. These are generally legal obligations, which can incur a penalty for unfulfilment, although certain people are obliged to carry out certain actions for other reasons as well, whether as a tradition or for 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.

The word "obligation" can also designate a written obligation, or such things as bank notes, coins, checks, bonds, stamps, or securities.

Legal

Common obligations of citizens include a requirement to participate as a juror if called upon and to pay taxes, which is seen as being in return for the right to participate in the electoral process and receive financial and physical protection from 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 fulfilled when the time is right.

Other uses

The term obligate can also be used in a biological context, in reference to species which must occupy a certain niche or behave in a certain way in order to survive. In biology, the opposite of obligate is facultative, meaning that a species is able to behave in a certain way and may do so under certain circumstances, but that it can also survive without having to behave this way. For example, species of salamanders in the family Proteidae are obligate paedomorphs, whereas species belonging to the Ambystomatidae are facultative paedomorphs.

In the Catholic Church, Holy Days of Obligation or Holidays of Obligation, less commonly called Feasts of Precept, are the days on which, as canon 1247 of the Code of Canon Law states, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass.

See also

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

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Wikipedia

Etymology

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

Pronunciation

Noun

Singular
obligation

Plural
obligations

obligation (plural obligations)

  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. (law) A legal agreement stipulating a specified payment or action; the document containing such agreement.
    X shall be entitled to subcontract its obligation to provide the Support Services. <<from an agreement>>

Related terms

Translations

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

French

Etymology

From Latin obligatio, from the verb obligō (tie together).

Noun

obligation f. (plural obligations)

  1. obligation

Related terms


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