Define: Obligation

UK Accounting Glossary

Definition: Obligation

Quick Summary of Obligation

The act of binding oneself by a social, legal, or moral tie to someone.

What is the dictionary definition of Obligation?

Dictionary Definition

  • Accounting: The duty to make a future payment that is incurred as soon as a purchase order is placed, encumbers a certain sum of money, and is called obligation incurred.
  • Law: A liability or duty to do something or refrain from doing something under the terms of a contract, such as the obligation of a borrower (the obligor) to pay back the lender (the obligee) under the terms of the loan agreement. Obligations usually involve a penalty for non-fulfilment.
  • General: A bond of moral duty (whether of necessity or of one’s own choosing) that ties two or more parties together.


  • The act of binding oneself by a social, legal, or moral tie to someone.
  • A social, legal, or moral requirement, duty, contract, or promise that compels someone to follow or avoid a particular course of action.
  • A course of action imposed by society, law, or conscience by which someone is bound or restricted.


Synonyms For Obligation

duty, responsibility, liability, requirement, commitment

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Obligation. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. April 03, 2020
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Obligation. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: April 03, 2020).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Obligation. Retrieved April 03, 2020, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for Obligation are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 12th December 2019.