verb (used with object), ob·li·gat·ed, ob·li·gat·ing.

  1. to bind or oblige morally or legally: to obligate oneself to purchase a building.
  2. to pledge, commit, or bind (funds, property, etc.) to meet an obligation.


  1. morally or legally bound; obliged; constrained.
  2. necessary; essential.
  3. Biology. restricted to a particular condition of life, as certain organisms that can survive only in the absence of oxygen: obligate anaerobe (opposed to facultative).


  1. to compel, constrain, or oblige morally or legally
  2. (in the US) to bind (property, funds, etc) as security


  1. compelled, bound, or restricted
  2. biology able to exist under only one set of environmental conditionsan obligate parasite cannot live independently of its host Compare facultative (def. 4)

v.1540s, “to bind, connect;” 1660s, “to put under moral obligation,” back-formation from obligation, or else from Latin obligatus, past participle of obligare (see oblige). Oblige, with which it has been confused since late 17c., means “to do one a favor.” Related: Obligated; obligating. adj.

  1. Able to exist or survive only in a particular environment or by assuming a particular role.

  1. Capable of existing only in a particular environment or by assuming a particular role. An obligate aerobe, such as certain bacteria, can live only in the presence of oxygen. An obligate parasite cannot survive independently of its host. Compare facultative.

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