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Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with passion. Learn More

obliged or obligated?

I am puzzled by the usage of ‘obliged’ and ‘obligated’. What’s the difference between the two words, which seem to share the same noun form “obligation”?

I could think of two sentences as below:

(1) John Doe is not obligated to do this.

(2) Experts felt obliged to investigate.

What if obligated and obliged are exchanged in the examples? any difference meaning?

Thanks

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Comments

i always thought obliged was more in the way of the person wanting to have to do something, and obligated is you just have to do something...does that make sense...? give me a break, it's late.

bagelundercouch Nov-27-2007

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From Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage page 675

"obligated" remains in Scottish and American use, but has dropped out of British English. Both "obliged" and "obligated" mean "being constrained legally or morally". When the constraint is applied by physical force or circumstances, "obliged" is used. "obligated" is also used to been "indebted for a service or favour".

John4 Nov-27-2007

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Hi I always thought that obligated meant you did not have a choice and obliged was you politly proceeded to the demand .
Please oblige as a respond ,
I am obligated to take you in , the prisonner obliged.
that 's my understanding

COACHING-U Nov-27-2007

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As a matter of fact, "obligated" is related to something ou have to do, regardless of your interest or not in doing this. "Obliged" has to do with your moral responsability. "Obliged" is something you need to do because you would feel uncomfortable in not doing. "Obligated" is something that make you feel uncomfortable in doing as it is something someone else has decided you should do.

Fbio Nov-28-2007

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Greetings everyone, I'm new here but I love studying the English language, informally of course. Hope you don't mind me chipping in.

Oxford English Dictionary is my source, the CD version 3.0.

Apparently both are to bind by oath, law, or duty. There is however a distinction.

Though the verb specifically, obligate is a little bit less lucid, "To bind round, fasten up". With the connotation of oath or law.

While the verb oblige is specifically said "to bind up a a person to an oath."

Oblige is also cited earlier, 1297 in OF and it has a wider umbrella of secondary meanings.

Obligate sounds like a subsequent development to oblige from possibly improper (or not) later reinterpretation of the Latin obligat-

I always thought oblige just sounded more formal and polite. :)

Tom1 Dec-01-2007

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It seems to me that the only difference lies in the degree of formalness.

Jason_C._S._Chu Dec-02-2007

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A tangentially interesting related adjective from microbiology: obligate, as in "obligate anaerobe" (a bacterium which requires an oxygen-free environment to live).

david Dec-06-2007

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Also interesting, obligate,as an adjective, would be pronounced OB-li -git (with the last syllable including a schwa as the vowel sound), not OB-li-gate (last syllable rhyming with eight)

anonymous4 Dec-08-2007

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To feel "obligated" has a connotation of being morally required to do something you don't want to do.

To feel "obliged" has a connotation of being morally required to do something you DO want to do.

Ex: "Much obliged!" is kind of like, "My pleasure!"

Any help? ^_^

Dredsina1 Dec-13-2007

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My sincere thanks to all you guys! I consulted some English lawyers and I think I embarrassed or amused them with this question. Quite delicate nuance between the two. Enlightened by your contributions, I feel like making more research in this regard and that's fun!

Thank you again!

monkey Dec-20-2007

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This is one of those silly pairs that was introduced twice, one via French and once via Latin.

justin2 Jan-26-2008

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I was once a legal proofreader/ copy editor in the US. We snagged the word "obliged" (in a multimillion-dollar legal contract) where it should have been "obligated." We were thanked profusely by the attorneys involved, who said it saved their hides.

pollyvousfrancais Feb-20-2008

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I covered this subject today on my language blog Belletra (www.belletra.com/blog), with liberal links to this thread. Special thanks to most recent poster Polly, with whose quote I concluded my post.

Casey Mar-03-2008

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Wrong...
The correct word to use is obliged in all circomstances although both words mean exactly the same. Obligated is a redundant word made up by Americans. 'Obliged' is asociated with negro deferance - 'Much obliged sir' - and has been avoided by white Americans since the turn of the 20th century. I blame Mark Twain!

Jon2 May-13-2008

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"obligated" was not invented by Americans. Let's get our facts right.

Here's my summary of Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage page 675 again, since no one seems to be reading it:

"obligated" remains in Scottish and American use, but has dropped out of British English. Both "obliged" and "obligated" mean "being constrained legally or morally". When the constraint is applied by physical force or circumstances, "obliged" is used. "obligated" is also used to been "indebted for a service or favour".

John4 May-13-2008

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I have had this same question for a long time. Obliged is used repetatively in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice where obligated is never used. Maybe this can help you in some way.

Anna_ Jun-30-2008

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John - as if anyone will trust what you say when your distinguishing between Scotland and Britain. Scotland is part of Britain.

Rita - you can't even spell prisoner.

Message Sep-16-2008

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BTW, the use of "your" instead of you're was intended... it's ironic.

Message Sep-16-2008

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Yes, Scotland is part of Great Britain, but Scottish English is not the same as British English.

John4 Sep-16-2008

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I should think British English encompasses Scottish English...? Do you mean South-east England English (or the 1950's BBC English/Received Pronounciation, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/classic/A657560)

(and being a Scot in London, what do I speak?!?)

As for obliged/obligated - the latter strikes me as odd in usage and I can't help but think it does sound like an 'Americanism'!

Obligated - one must do something
Obliged - a feeling one I must do something (but could legally argue out of it - see above comment from Polly!).

Sair-fecht Nov-10-2008

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oops, I meant pronunciation, of course :)

Sair-fecht Nov-10-2008

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"British English" has two interpretations, as explained by The Oxford Companion to the English Language:

"Broadly understood, British English is the English language as used in Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) or the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland...

Narrowly understood, British English is the form of standard English used in Britain at learge or more specifically in English, and more specifically still in south-eastern England."

Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage is clearly using the latter interpretation.

John4 Nov-10-2008

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I've been wondering abut this...when was obligated first used? I was always under the impression that the two words meant the same thing, and that obligated was an 'americanism'. Perhaps this was once true and over time, and as obligated has become more widely used, it has taken on a definite and separate meaning to obliged?

As an aside, 'British-English' generally refers to 'English-English' [ie received pronunciation], and shouldnt be used to include Scottish terms. As i understand it, this is because in the days of the British Empire, the words English and British were generally given the same meaning in popular usage, which is something that carries on to some extent to this day - I do it myself in fact. When someone describes a thing as British i generally take that to mean English. Which doesn't always go down well, as I'm an Englishman in Scotland.

KraJ Dec-05-2008

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KraJ, the first cite for "obligated" in the OED is from Richardson's "Pamela" - so it is not an Americanism.

John4 Dec-05-2008

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I agree with Tom. Not only that, but it saves space! :)

David_C. Dec-06-2008

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John just crushed that one hater.

soul.invictus Sep-17-2009

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As a Scotsman (of over half a century old) I've never in my entire life heard the word "obligated" until a few years ago. The word is "obliged". "Obligated" is a word created by people (I believe in the U.S. but can't say for sure) who simply had no idea that the word is "obliged"!

samwatson57 Sep-25-2009

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‘Obligate’ is not an Americanism, nor is it a recent coinage or an unnecessary variant of ‘oblige.’ Merriam-Webster gives the derivation of ‘obligate’ as:

Latin ‘obligatus,’ past participle of ‘obligare’

The etymology of ‘oblige’ is given as:

Middle English, from Anglo-French ‘obliger,’ from Latin ‘obligare,’

M-W dates ‘obligate’ to 1533, ‘oblige’ to the 14th century. For you history buffs, that’s well before the English language arrived in the New World. (Interestingly, M-W dates ‘obligated’ and 'obligation' to the 14th century, which means that ‘obligate’ must also be that old.)

Both are (primarily) transitive verbs, and while they can be used interchangeably in some cases, their definitions are somewhat different:

Obligate:

1: to bind legally or morally
2: to commit (as funds) to meet an obligation

Oblige:

1: to constrain by physical, moral, or legal force or by the exigencies of circumstance

2: A: to put in one's debt by a favor or service B : to do a favor for

I suspect that the 'obligate,' coming as it does from Latin, was introduced as a legal term–a more narrowly defined term than ‘oblige.’

douglas.bryant Sep-25-2009

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Thanks, Polly and Douglas, that confirms what I suspected: basically, moral requirement versus legal requirement.

Obliged means that which one ought to do as determined by moral reasoning and not being necessarily connected with any specific event, and hence typically originating in pre-existing moral principles as applicable to a given context.

Obligated mean that which has arisen from a specific event in response to which what one ought to do is determinable by reference to a prior formulated plan of response, typically originating in a binding agreement (eg contract) or other force of law (eg tort or crime), where the obligations to act arise because of being obliged to abide by one's word or to obey the law.

jjmcvey Oct-19-2009

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Obligated to a Brit or in my case a Brit by way of the Irish Republic is straightforwardly an Americanism. It sounds clunky and unfamiliar. I appreciate that it's quite an old word, and I take note of the distinction provided above between moral obligation and obligation by third party; it makes sense to me, although I suggest it's a distinction hard to follow in vernacular speech. I echo the comment by the Scottish poster, I have never heard anyone use the word obligated in spoken speech anywhere in this part of the world. I simply don't trust Merriam-Webster on this point.

Obligated does however have a legal meaning in the UK , as in an 'obligated company', that's to say one bound by a legal contractual obligation.

I think the sticking point here is spoken or informal English, where in North America 'obligated' has become fashionable. Presumably there's a reason for this, whether 'obliged' has a sense of Southern servility or connection to slavery as above suggested or whatever it may be.

beanuk999 Nov-06-2009

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I came across this forum after my supervisor - I am a lawyer in training - reprimanded me for using the word 'obligated'.

I was thrown off when he told me that it was not a word, and the correct word was 'obliged'. Sought some answers here. Good to see I wasn't completely making up words.

Very amusing.

boticellibabe Dec-01-2009

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I'm surprised that someone pointed out Rita's typo but no one else has commented on her mention of the other meaning of obliged as in "the prisoner obliged". Clearly you could not use obligated in this sense, and it gives weight to the common observation that "obliged" is more of a choice: giving in to the pressure (whether legal, moral or physical) to do something.

Anna_ Dec-23-2009

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The differences are pretty straight forward and readily explained: obliged is a legitimate word in english, whereas obligated is a hideous americanism that everyone now assumes is legitimate just because it's used on every cack TV show going. Cf "I'd like to speak WITH you"; "You did Great".

This kind of cultural imperialism is annoying; even the "European" edition of a text book on (of all things) International Business (providing -irony of ironies - chapters on cultural imperialism and sensitivity to national differences) was cut to an american paper size and used strictly american english.

Dave3 Jul-18-2010

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Too many folk arguing semantics.
You can quote as many sources as you like but I say obliged.
Let's call the whole thing off.

Johnny1 Aug-23-2010

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1 No one is obligated to agree with me, but I am very much obliged to those patient and curious for reading through all comments in this thread this far and that even my own opinion on the matter is now in front of them to consider.

2. No one has to agree with me, but I certainly appreciate...

1 = 2

abanatobu Aug-31-2010

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I have seen the word 'obligated' used in an occupational context, where the employee has been trained at the expense of his employer and is contractually bound tothat company for a set period thereafter (presumably to dissuade him from getting the training paid for and then switching to another employer immediately thereafter). Thus for example, an online acquainance of mine describes himself as an 'Obligated Engineer'.

mark.sewart Oct-12-2010

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"To feel "obligated" has a connotation of being morally required to do something you don't want to do. To feel "obliged" has a connotation of being morally required to do something you DO want to do. "

That's just simply not true. As far as I'm aware, the word 'obliged' can always take the place of the word 'obligated'. However, the reverse is not true.

'Obliged' can and does certainly mean to feel constrained or coerced into an action.

Or somewhat subtle in difference that you feel responsible

It can mean you feel indebted to someone. However, this can be appreciative 'I am very much obliged'. Similarly, when using this positive spin on the word, you can oblige someone.

There are a number of other ways you can use the word too.

theojmb Dec-30-2010

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'I have seen the word ‘obligated’ used in an occupational context'

That definitely does seem to be a place where obliged does not seem quite strong enough.

theojmb Dec-30-2010

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The 'ated' words are a back formation or re-verbing of words that ended in tion. Some examples include orientate and obligate.

Despite the fact that verbs such as 'to orient" and "to oblige" already existed, there are many examples of words that end in 'tion' that have been backformed into verbs by removing tion and adding tate.

This resulted in 'orientate' when the original and more correct verb is "to orient". To orient was to turn a map so that the map pointed towards the Orient. Orientate is a re-verb that people assume is correct due to common usage.

Obligation thus became 'to obligate' despite the fact that the original verb was 'to oblige'. Obligate has fallen into common use, especially in the US, and a distinction between the two has grown out of either a need for distinction, or the seperation of regions where one or the other is used exclusively.

Cheers,

bubbha Dec-31-2010

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To Obligate is a backformation or re-verbing of the original verb "to Oblige".
There are other examples like "To Orientate/To Orient".

Due to common usage the backformed verbs are considered acceptable.

In a nutshell, they took a bunch of words that ended in "tion" and made a verb out of them, usually by adding "tate" to the end. In some cases a shorter form of the verb already existed, so they formed an unnecessary verb that was longer than the original.

Orient - Orientat ion - Orient ate
Oblige - Obligat ion - Oblig ate

bubbha Dec-31-2010

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Chris - Thank you!

I, for one, find it disgusting that if enough people misuse a word, that this incorrect meaning becomes accepted as correct.

Personal pet peeve -> ignorant

People who use the word 'ignorant' as a synonym for 'rude' or 'cantankerous' are ignorant of its correct meaning and fail to appreciate the irony of their ignorance. (Yes, I'm aware that this is now an accepted meaning... but it shouldn't be!)

X

bevanmd Jan-25-2011

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"BTW, the use of "your" instead of you're was intended… it's ironic."

No... but your entire comment is.

Intentionally using improper grammar to mock someone else's improper grammar is not ironic... 'facetious' perhaps, but not 'ironic'.

However, if you did it unintentionally and someone else pointed it out, THEN your attempted mockery would be ironic. So it is impossible to 'be ironic' (another ignorance the media perpetuates... 'I'm being ironic...') You can be 'sarcastic' or 'facetious', but not 'ironic'.

But I'm sure that conformance to mass ignorance will eventually force adoption of this misuse as well.

X

bevanmd Jan-25-2011

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Maybe using the wrong word could become a crime - my pet hate is the increasing confusion between "bring" and "take".

Charlie says to Jake "I will bring you to your mother"

Rupert Mar-08-2011

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Rupert, Irish people, among others, tend to use "bring" in many instances where grammarians tell is we should use "take". I think "bring" tends to indicate the user feels a closeness to the person/thing being brought/taken, or to the destination.
An example from the popular song My Lovely Horse:
"I want to shower you with sugar lumps and ride you over fences,
polish your hooves every single day and bring you to the horse dentist."
Here, the singer feels a closeness to the horse.

Des Mar-09-2011

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for all ur help i am much "obliged". did i use the word wrong? that is my question.

peace ...

dominus_et_deus Mar-12-2011

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Very interesting and illuminating thread! I am much obliged, though I do not feel placed under any obligation...

Davidbd Jul-15-2011

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He was obligated to attend his sister-in-law's party because she threatened to key his car if he did not turn up.

He felt obliged to attend his sister-in-law's party because he felt indebted to her after she paid his speeding tickets.

Have I used them correctly???

Luna Jul-18-2011

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Everyone (everybody?) here that is getting upset about the 'incorrect' use of words seems to be forgetting is that there was once a time when NO WORDS existed at all. Words are created and EVOLVE due to the need to communicate thoughts and feelings, not so that we can follow a strict set of rules in the hope that one can feel intelligent when they correct someone else's misuse of a word. Seriously, get over yourselves!

JanxSpirit Jul-21-2011

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As silly as this sounds, this question has been burning a hole in my brain nonstop for the last 8 months, I'm so glad someone even bothered to bring it up online.

AlexZ Jul-29-2011

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So, desiring to use these words in the paper I am writing properly (and in the Canadian style) I have done some digging. Apparently oblige comes from the Latin obligare via French's obligier. These are both versions of oblige/obliged in the modern sense we are discussing here. Obligate is not a word, nor is obligated, it seems, since it comes likewise from Latin through Old French, obligationem -> obligation. Thus in "proper" English one would only use oblige, obliged, and obligation, but none of obligate, obligated, and obligation. (Naturally none of use the last as it is.) You might think it strange that you can't fill out a truth table for these words to find all the roots and endings, but the same situation arises with adapt and adaptation. There is no adaptate nor adaption.

Cheers!

Brad1 Aug-04-2011

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I agree with JanxSpirit. Societies evolve and the words they use evolve with them. If this were not the case, we'd all be speaking like we're from a Shakespeare play. This is not meant to imply I enjoy seeing incorrect words become accepted as correct. I don't enjoy it at all. However, I also don't feel obliged to judge a person by their use of grammar (or their accent). To me British English sounds no more educated than American English simply because I don't factor a person's grammar into my decision to enjoy someone's company, or not.

It's interesting to see our languages evolve, grow and change. Some words that were nouns are now used as verbs ("text me" vs. "send me a text message") and I see no reason to find that offensive. New words are added to our dictionaries each year as well, simply because their use has become so common. It might be interesting to write a Vook about it.

Charis Aug-05-2011

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By the way, is it possible for "oblige" to be used with animate nouns?

ex. He was obliged "by the teacher" to study English.

Is this sentence acceptable?

hero1 Sep-02-2011

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That sentence sounds to me kind of awkward but I think technically correct, based on the meaning of "oblige" in my Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.

David5 Sep-02-2011

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Thank you for your judgement.

Do you have a book that states the rule that 'obliged by' cannot be followed by a person?

hero1 Sep-02-2011

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Is this sentence acceptabale?

No one can oblige you to stay in a job that you hate.

hero1 Sep-02-2011

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I am mid-investigation. So, while I have not yet found a definitive answer, I can say this much:

There is strong evidence showing that "obligated" is NOT an "Americanism". Consider these references in classic English literature (source: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/obligated ):

- Charles Dickens in 'Great Expectations':
"So, he'd come with a most tremenjous crowd and make such a row at the doors of the houses where we was, that they used to be obligated to have no more to do with us and to give us up to him."

- Jane Austen in 'Persuasion':
"I believe Mrs Charles is not quite pleased with my not inviting them oftener; but you know it is very bad to have children with one that one is obligated to be checking every moment; "don't do this," and "don't do that;" or that one can only keep in tolerable order by more cake than is good for them."

Lyrian Oct-20-2011

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I would like to add: OBLIGATORADE. Obey your thirst.

Wait; that's Sprite. D'oh!

Lyrian Oct-21-2011

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"Obliged" is the same as in Portuguese language. Comes from the Roman Empire. In Portuguese we use "obrigado" to say "thank you". It means "I fell obliged to return you a favour". We say "muito obrigado" too, which in old English is "much obliged". Its Latin, but as in many English worlds derivated from Latin, there are two similar spelling words in English meaning the very same thing. In Portuguese, "obliged" and "obligated" are "obrigado" only.In Latin the word "obligatus" or the participle verb "obligare" means "to link", or that two parts are linked by a deal.

Tomas Dec-10-2011

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I wonder whether too many comments here are pedontic?
I arrived at this site through hearing the word obligated being used whilst watching Glee. As a Scotsman speaking English it simply smacked of Americanism to me. Having read the above it has changed my opinion though. Always a good thing.

Garifold Mar-01-2012

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Fascinating, thank you all.
I do believe language is a living thing.
Though i had never heard of 'obligated' and believed it to be an error, i did understand what was meant.
Now i see that lots of people know it , even Jane Austen , and use it in the same way as 'obliged' ( with the exception of attourneys ).Which is fine by me.

Luke Mar-28-2012

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To the community.

This is not an evolution of langauge but a misinterpretation The verb is to oblige, as part of the grammatical structure driven by Latin. Obligate was introduced into the English language as an Americanism and first appears in print in 1753. Why is not certain but has been attributed to ignorance caused by the lack of education that existed in neo-america at the time.

Professor Oxenham Jul-16-2012

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Regarding: "I wonder whether too many comments here are pedontic?" I am curious. Are you suggesting that many of those posting have put their feet in their mouths?

porsche Jul-18-2012

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Obligate, orientate, commentate - all silly words that don't need to exist. Oblige, orient, comment are perfectly fine.

Mix-ups in understanding lead to unnecessary "ate"s on the end of back-formed verbs. Proclamation -> proclamate? Declaration -> declarate? Obviously not.

James77 Sep-05-2012

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Bischoppe Cesariense..reconsilede to God a man ***obligate*** to the deville for þe luffe of a mayde. -Higden's Polychronicon, c1475

obligate (v.) 1540s, "to bind, connect;" 1660s, "to put under moral obligation," from L. obligatus, pp. of obligare

Obligate is not an Americanism ... It's been in English since about 1475 ... which is before Columbus stumbled over the Americas. As a verb since the 1540s which is before Jamestown ... You can giv credit ... or blame ... the Americans for this word.

AnWulf Sep-05-2012

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^^^Oops ... CAN'T blame or credit the Americans.

AnWulf Sep-05-2012

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Bischoppe Cesariense..reconsilede to God a man ***obligate*** to the deville for þe luffe of a mayde. -Higden's Polychronicon, c1475

In the case you quote "obligate" is an adjective, pronounced obligut.

James777 Sep-07-2012

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Since this lively thread carries on, I thought I'd add in my two cents' worth (or, rather, that of both The American Heritage Dictionary and The Concise Oxford Dictionary).

What I've always loved about the AHD are the synonyms and usage notes which are invaluable with word confusions such as this. And they don't disappoint now. Here's what they say, verbatim, for both 'obligate' and 'oblige':

ob-li-gate | transitive verb | To bind, compel, or constrain by a legal or moral tie. See Synonyms at force. See Usage note at oblige.
-------------------------------
o-blige | transitive verb |
(1) To cause to do or refrain from doing something; constrain by physical, legal, social, or moral means.
(2) To make indebted or grateful. Used with 'to' .
(3) To gratify the wishes of; do a service or favor for.
oblige | intransitive verb | To do a service or favor; perform a courtesy.

"Usage note: In the sense of rendering a service or kindness, oblige, favor, and accommodate are frequently interchangeable. Oblige and the somewhat more forceful favor generally apply to gratuitous service. Accommodate can be used in that sense, but is applicable also to business dealings, such as to services provided by banks, hospitals, hotels, and the like. Oblige and obligate are interchangeable in the sense of genuine constraint, but not in instances involving a sense of gratitude for a service or favor. A person is obliged (not obligated) when he feels a debt of gratitude and nothing more; he is obligated (or obliged) when under direct compulsion to follow a given course."
---------------------------

And while I'm not going to type out the entire entry under 'force' here are the most applicable parts:

"Synonyms: force, compel, coerce, constrain, necessitate, oblige, obligate. These verbs mean to make a person or thing follow a prescribed or dictated course ... Oblige is applicable when compliance is caused by the operation of authority, necessity, or moral or ethical considerations, and obligate when compulsion is exerted by terms of a legal contract or promise, or by the dictates of one's conscience or sense of propriety."

As for The Concise Oxford Dictionary, here we go:

Obligate v.t. Bind (person, legally or morally) to do.
Oblige
(1) v.t. (arch. or Law). Bind (person, oneself) by oath, promise, contract, etc., to person or to do.
(2) Be binding on; constrain, compel, to do; make indebted by conferring favour, gratify by doing or with, perform a service for (person requesting it, or abs.).
(3) v.i. (colloq.) Make contribution to entertainment (with song etc., or abs.).

And "much obliged" is simply defined as "thank you"
----------------------------

Personally? I got much more from AHD, as usual. Hope y'all find it useful too.

Annoula Oct-25-2012

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The words 'oblige' and 'obligate' both have a long history but the simple fact is that the Americans seem to prefer 'obligate' and the British 'oblige'.

Skeeter Lewis Oct-25-2012

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I was about to suggest that Americans enjoy the fancy longer word, for example 'burglarize' instead of 'burgle' but then I realised that we Brits say 'acclimatise' and Americans say 'acclimate'. So I won't.
Yes - I do know there is inconsistency in the spelling above between 'realised', 'burglarized' and 'acclimatized' but that is another kettle of Anglo-American fish...

Skeeter Lewis Oct-25-2012

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I was about to suggest that Americans enjoy the fancy longer word, for example 'burglarize' instead of 'burgle' but then I realised that we Brits say 'acclimatise' and Americans say 'acclimate'. So I won't.
Yes - I do know there is inconsistency in the spelling above between 'realised', 'burglarize' and 'acclimatised' but that is another kettle of Anglo-American fish...

Skeeter Lewis Oct-25-2012

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Enjoyed reading this thread and the semantics and pedantics from all sides. I found this as a resident of of the British Isles who repeatedly heard or read this clunky word "obligate" and thought "What's that all about?"

Obligate may be a perfectly acceptable term in the US but, to the English ear (inc speakers in Ireland, Scotland and Wales) this sounds redundant, misguided and clumsy.
I had never, at any time, come across this in business, legal or common usage until i heard and read it used by Americans.

"Obligate" may not be an Americanism per se, but that is precisely how it sounds. To the English, who speak English, in England (etc....)

Secret Squirrel Oct-25-2012

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In summary obliged is used in general parlance, obligated is used with a slight difference in meaning in legal parlance. Obliged is a much less awkward word and sounds better. Obligated is an hard word and like "fall" and "obfuscate" I doubt if many Scottish use obligated except in a legal context.

Buzzbuzz10 Jan-02-2013

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In summary obliged is used in general parlance, obligated is used with a slight difference in meaning in legal parlance. Obliged is a much less awkward word and sounds better. Obligated is an hard word and like "fall" and "obfuscate" has dropped out of use here in the UK. I doubt if many Scottish use obligated except in a legal context. stupid page wont let me post under my name lol.

Buzzbuzz10 Jan-02-2013

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Ob-Li-Ge, Ob-Li-Ga - life goes on, brah!

Artful Bodger Apr-11-2013

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hmmm Had argument with the word ''OBLIGATED'' en ''COMMITED'' . My argument is ... you cannot use the word obligated when referring to a partner saying '' It's easier to maintain a long distance relationship whereas if you are together you are obligated to be with your partner ''. No one is obligated to be with a partner and if said commited it's more a positive thing .....more with love. Somehow, I think obligated feels more forced while obliged is more a feeling of wanting it yourself. It's how you use it in a context. If you say, I am obligating myself to commit to my partner , it is more a choice than forced too. I OBLIGED, I give in ( a choice ). OBLIGATED , A MUST !!!

Christina SMEDLEY Jan-09-2014

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hmmm Had argument with the word ''OBLIGATED'' en ''COMMITED'' . My argument is ... you cannot use the word obligated when referring to a partner saying '' It's easier to maintain a long distance relationship whereas if you are together you are obligated to be with your partner ''. No one is obligated to be with a partner and if said commited it's more a positive thing .....more with love. Somehow, I think obligated feels more forced while obliged is more a feeling of wanting it yourself. It's how you use it in a context. If you say, I am obligating myself to commit to my partner , it is more a choice than forced too. I OBLIGED, I give in ( a choice ). OBLIGATED , A MUST !!!

Christina SMEDLEY Jan-09-2014

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"I feel obligated to point out you are obliged to provide me with an explanation as to why this is an issue." I feel honour bound to point out that: it is incumbent on you to explain why this is an issue.

Get a grip people! Apr-27-2014

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Personally I never, ever use it, obliged covering both meanings - duty, and expressing gratitude, especially in BrE.

It is certainly more common in American books than in British ones (it is considered very formal in BrE):

http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=obligated%3Aeng_us_2012%2Cobliged%3Aeng_us_2012%2Cobligated%3Aeng_gb_2012%2Cobliged%3Aeng_gb_2012%2C&year_start=1940&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2Cobligated%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2Cobliged%3Aeng_us_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2Cobligated%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2Cobliged%3Aeng_gb_2012%3B%2Cc0

But, its origins seem to be British alright. And it's older than the OED's citation of Pamela (1741), appearing in Nathan Baileys's Dictionarium Britannicum of 1730, and in 'The four years voyages of capt. George Roberts', co-authored by Daniel Defoe, in 1726.

In fact we can beat the OED by some thirty years: this is from 1714 - "and I, as in Conscience bound, shall always own my self highly Obligated to you for the same, and acknowledge my self, Gentlemen" = Pax in Crumena, Thomas Rands, London 1714.

http://books.google.pl/books?id=NcEUAAAAQAAJ&pg=PP8&dq=obligated&hl=en&sa=X&ei=AeRcU57_GY-A7QauloHAAw&ved=0CEYQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=obligated&f=false

Warsaw Will Apr-27-2014

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Obligation is to "obligate" what conversation is to "conversate".

King Yongol Apr-30-2014

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Obliged refers to something one should do, or even pleased to do. Obligated refers to something one is expected or supposed to do.

Vitaly Tomilov May-04-2016

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Obligated is simply clumsy grammar - obliged applies wherever both words might apply!

Rorritt Jan-04-2017

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