something by which a person is bound or obliged to do certain things, and which arises out of a sense of duty or results from custom, law, etc.
something that is done or is to be done for such reasons: to fulfill one's obligations.
a binding promise, contract, sense of duty, etc.
the act of binding or obliging oneself by a promise, contract, etc.
an agreement enforceable by law, originally applied to promises under seal.
a document containing such an agreement.
a bond containing a penalty, with a condition annexed for payment of money, performance of covenants, etc.
any bond, note, bill, certificate, or the like, as of a government or a corporation, serving as evidence of indebtedness.
an indebtedness or amount of indebtedness.
a favor, service, or benefit for which gratitude is due.
a debt of gratitude: He felt an obligation to his teacher.
the state of being under a debt, as of gratitude, for a favor, service, or benefit.

1250–1300; Middle English obligacioun < Old French obligation < Latin obligātiōn- (stem of obligātiō) a binding, equivalent to obligāt(us) bound (see obligate) + -iōn- -ion

preobligation, noun
reobligation, noun
superobligation, noun

1. responsibility. See duty. 5. contract, covenant.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
obligation (ˌɒblɪˈɡeɪʃən)
1.  a moral or legal requirement; duty
2.  the act of obligating or the state of being obligated
3.  law a legally enforceable agreement to perform some act, esp to pay money, for the benefit of another party
4.  law
 a.  a written contract containing a penalty
 b.  an instrument acknowledging indebtedness to secure the repayment of money borrowed
5.  a person or thing to which one is bound morally or legally
6.  something owed in return for a service or favour
7.  a service or favour for which one is indebted

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, from O.Fr. obligation (1235), from L. obligationem (nom. obligatio) "an engaging or pledging," lit. "a binding" (but rarely used in this sense), noun of action from obligare (see oblige). The notion is of binding with promises or by law or duty.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Rural areas still see life in terms of face-to-face personal relationships and
  personal obligation and responsibility.
It is interesting to see the role of the psychologist in two-fold: their duty
  to their country and their obligation as a doctor.
If subsistence fishermen have the right to fish, they also have the obligation
  to sustain the fishing grounds.
The point being that a play doesn't necessarily have an obligation to convey a
  moral, social, or political message.
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