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November 6, 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.
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