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ought1

[awt] /ɔt/
auxiliary verb
1.
(used to express duty or moral obligation):
Every citizen ought to help.
2.
(used to express justice, moral rightness, or the like):
He ought to be punished. You ought to be ashamed.
3.
(used to express propriety, appropriateness, etc.):
You ought to be home early. We ought to bring her some flowers.
4.
(used to express probability or natural consequence):
That ought to be our train now.
noun
5.
duty or obligation.
Origin
900
before 900; Middle English ought, aught, Old English āhte, past tense of āgan to owe
Synonyms
1. See must1 .
Usage note
Ought1 forms its negative in a number of ways. Ought not occurs in all types of speech and writing and is fully standard: The conferees ought not to waste time on protocol. Oughtn't, largely a spoken form, is found mainly in the Midland and Southern dialects of the United States, where it is almost the universal form. Hadn't ought is a common spoken form in the Northern dialect area. It is sometimes condemned in usage guides and is uncommon in educated speech except of the most informal variety. Didn't ought and shouldn't ought are considered nonstandard.
Both positive and negative forms of ought are almost always followed by the infinitive form: We ought to go now. You ought not to worry about it. Occasionally, to is omitted after the negative construction: Congress ought not adjourn without considering this bill.

ought2

[awt] /ɔt/
noun, adverb
1.
aught1 .

ought3

[awt] /ɔt/
noun
1.
aught2 .
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for ought
  • Whatever is the defining idea of the next decade, it ought to be free.
  • If the oceans came primarily from comets, the proportion ought to be closer.
  • There ought to be an immediate ban on the use of chimpanzees.
  • There ought to be more supervision of the fast-food joints.
  • Every drop of rain that falls in this thirsty part of the country ought to go in the land.
  • In other words, different diagnoses ought to reflect different disorders.
  • We ought to be asking a different question altogether.
  • We'd then be able to say, there's something community colleges ought to fix.
  • In the process, it will reinvent our concept of what personal computing is, has been and ought to become.
  • Participants ought to meet the following requirements:.
British Dictionary definitions for ought

aught1

/ɔːt/
pronoun
1.
anything at all; anything whatever (esp in the phrase for aught I know)
adverb
2.
(dialect) in any least part; to any degree
Word Origin
Old English āwiht, from ā ever, ay1 + wiht thing; see wight1

aught2

/ɔːt/
noun
1.
a less common word for nought

nought

/nɔːt/
noun
1.
the digit 0; zero: used esp in counting or numbering
noun, adjective, adverb
2.
a variant spelling of naught
Word Origin
Old English nōwiht, from ne not, no + ōwiht something; see whit

ought1

/ɔːt/
verb (foll by to; takes an infinitive or implied infinitive)
1.
to indicate duty or obligation: you ought to pay your dues
2.
to express prudent expediency: you ought to be more careful with your money
3.
(usually with reference to future time) to express probability or expectation: you ought to finish this work by Friday
4.
to express a desire or wish on the part of the speaker: you ought to come next week
Usage note
In correct English, ought is not used with did or had. I ought not to do it, not I didn't ought to do it; I ought not to have done it, not I hadn't ought to have done it
Word Origin
Old English āhte, past tense of āgan to owe; related to Gothic aihta

ought2

/ɔːt/
pronoun, adverb
1.
a variant spelling of aught1

ought3

/ɔːt/
noun
1.
a less common word for nought (sense 1)
Word Origin
C19: mistaken division of a nought as an ought; see nought
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ought
v.

Old English ahte "owned, possessed," past tense of agan "to own, possess, owe" (see owe). As a past tense of owe, it shared in that word's evolution and meant at times in Middle English "possessed" and "under obligation to pay." It has been detached from owe since 17c., though he aught me ten pounds is recorded as active in East Anglian dialect from c.1825. As an auxiliary verb expressing duty or obligation (late 12c., the main modern use), it represents the past subjunctive.

n.

"zero, cipher," 1844, probably a misdivision of a nought (see nought; for misdivision, see N); meaning probably influenced by aught "anything."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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9
10
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