- A generic word, derived from the Latin substantive "obligatio," having many, wide, and varied meanings, according to the context in which it is used. That which a person is bound to do or forbear; any duty imposed by law, promise, contract, relations of society, courtesy, kindness, etc. Helvering v. British-American Tobacco Co., C.C.A., 69 F.2d 528, 530.Law or duty binding parties to perform their agreement. An undertaking to perform. That which constitutes a legal or moral duty and which renders a person liable to coercion and punishment for neglecting it; a word of broad meaning, and the particular meaning intended is to be gained by consideration of its context. An obligation or debt may exist by reason of a judgment as well as an express contract, in either case there being a legal duty on the part of the one bound to comply with the promise. Schwartz v. California Claim Service, 52 Cal.App.2d 47, 125 P.2d 883, 888.Liabilities created by contract or law (i.e. judgments). Rose v. W. B. Worthen Co., 186 Ark. 205, 53 S.W.2d 15,16.As legal term word originally meant a sealed bond, but it now extends to any certain written promise to pay money or do a specific thing. Lee v. Kenan, C.C.A.Fla., 78 F.2d 425.A formal and binding agreement or acknowledgment of a liability to pay a certain sum or do a certain thing. United States v. One Zumstein Briefmarken Katalog 1938, D.C. Pa., 24 F.Supp. 516, 519.The binding power of a vow, promise, oath, or contract, or of law, civil, political, or moral, independent of a promise; that which constitutes legal or moral duty.See also contract- duty- liability.@ absolute obligationOne which gives no alternative to the obligor, but requires fulfillment according to the engagement.@ conjunctive or alternative obligation@ conjunctive obligationconjunctive or alternative obligationThe former is one in which the several objects in it are connected by a copulative, or in any other manner which shows that all of them are severally comprised in the contract. This contract creates as many different obligations as there are different objects; and the debtor, when he wishes to discharge himself, may force the creditor to receive them separately. But where the things which form the object of the contract are separated by a disjunctive, then the obligation is alternative, and the performance of either of such things will discharge the obligor. The choice of performing one of the obligations belongs to the obligor, unless it is expressly agreed that it shall belong to the creditor. A promise to deliver a certain thing or to pay a specified sum of money is an example of an alternative obligation. Civ.Code La. arts. 2063, 2066, 2067.See also alternative obligation@ contractual obligationOne which arises from a contract or agreement.+ contractual obligationThe obligation which arises from a contract or agreement@ current obligationSee current obligations.@ determinate or indeterminate obligation@ determinate obligation@ indeterminate obligationdeterminate or indeterminate obligationA determinate obligation is one which has for its object a certain thing: as, an obligation to deliver a certain horse named Bucephalus, in which case the obligation can be discharged only by delivering the identical horse. An indeterminate obligation is one where the obligor binds himself to deliver one of a certain species: as, to deliver a horse, where the delivery of any horse will discharge the obligation.@ divisible or indivisible obligation@ divisible obligation@ indivisible obligationdivisible or indivisible obligationA divisible obligation is one which, being a unit, may nevertheless be lawfully divided, with or without the consent of the parties. An indivisible obligation is one which is not susceptible of division: as, for example, if I promise to pay you one hundred dollars, you cannot assign one-half of this to another, so as to give him a right of action against me for his share. Express or implied obligation. Express or conventional obligations are those by which the obligor binds himself in express terms to perform his obligation, while implied obligations are such as are raised by the implication or inference of the law from the nature of the transaction.@@ joint or several obligation@ joint obligation@ several obligationjoint or several obligationA joint obligation is one by which two or more obligors bind themselves jointly for the performance of the obligation. A several obligation is one where the obligors promise, each for himself, to fulfill the engagement.@ moral obligationA duty which is valid and binding in conscience and according to natural justice, but is not recognized by the law as adequate to set in motion the machinery of justice; that is, one which rests upon ethical considerations alone, and is not imposed or enforced by positive law. A duty which would be enforceable by law, were it not for some positive rule, which, with a view to general benefit, exempts the party in that particular instance from legal liability.See also love and affection.@ natural or civil obligation@ natural obligation@ civil obligationnatural or civil obligationA natural obligation is one which cannot be enforced by action, but which is binding on the party who makes it in conscience and according to natural justice. As, for instance, when the action is barred by the act of limitation, a natural obligation still subsists, although the civil obligation is extinguished. Ogden v. Saunders, 25 U.S. 213, 337, (12 Wheat.) 6 L.Ed. 606.A civil obligation is a legal tie, which gives the party with whom it is contracted the right of enforcing its performance by law+ civil obligationOne which binds in law, and may be enforced in a court of justice@ obediential obligation/abiydiyenshal oblagfeyshan/One incumbent on parties in consequence of the situation or relationship in which they are placed.See also obligation.@ perfect or imperfect obligation@ perfect obligation@ imperfect obligationPerfect or imperfect obligation.A perfect obligation is one recognized and sanctioned by positive law; one of which the fulfillment can be enforced by the aid of the law. But if the duty created by the obligation operates only on the moral sense, without being enforced by any positive law, it is called an "imperfect obligation," and creates no right of action, nor has it any legal operation. The duty of exercising gratitude, charity, and the other merely moral duties are examples of this kind of obligation. Edwards v. Kearzey, 96 U.S. 595, 600, 24 L.Ed. 793.@ personal obligationPersonal or heritable obligation. An obligation is heritable when the heirs and assigns of one party may enforce the performance against the heirs of the other. It is personal when the obligor binds himself only, not his heirs or representatives. An obligation is strictly personal when none but the obligee can enforce the performance, or when it can be enforced only against the obligor. An obligation may be personal as to the obligee, and heritable as to the obligor, and it may in like manner be heritable as to the obligee, and personal as to the obligor. For the term personal obligation, as used in a different sense, see the next paragraph (personal or real obligation).@ personal or heritable obligation@ heritable obligationPersonal or heritable obligation. An obligation is heritable when the heirs and assigns of one party may enforce the performance against the heirs of the other. It is personal when the obligor binds himself only, not his heirs or representatives. An obligation is strictly personal when none but the obligee can enforce the performance, or when it can be enforced only against the obligor. An obligation may be personal as to the obligee, and heritable as to the obligor, and it may in like manner be heritable as to the obligee, and personal as to the obligor. For the term personal obligation, as used in a different sense, see personal or real obligation.See also personal or real obligation@ personal or real obligation@ real obligationPersonal or real obligation. A personal obligation is one by which the obligor binds himself to perform an act, without directly binding his property for its performance. A real obligation is one by which real estate, and not the person, is liable to the obligee for the performance.See also personal or heritable obligation@ primary or secondary obligation@ primary obligation@ secondary obligationPrimary or secondary obligation. An obligation which is the principal object of the contract. For example, the primary obligation of the seller is to deliver the thing sold, and to transfer the title to it. It is distinguished from the accessory or secondary obligation to pay damages for not doing so. The words "primary" and "direct," contrasted with "secondary," when spoken with reference to an obligation, refer to the remedy provided by law for enforcing the obligation, rather than to the character and limits of the obligation itself.A primary obligation, which in one sense may also be called a principal obligation, is one which is contracted with a design that it should itself be the first fulfilled. A secondary obligation is one which is contracted and is to be performed in case the primitive cannot be. For example, if one sells his house, he binds himself to give a title; but if he finds he cannot as when the title is in another, then his secondary obligation is to pay damages for nonperformance of the obligation.+ primary obligationIn contract law, the foundational requirement of a contracting party from which other obligations may spring; e.g. in a contract of sale, the buyer's primary obligation is to purchase the goods@ principal or accessory obligation@ principal obligationPrincipal or accessory obligation. A principal obligation is one which arises from the principal object of the engagement of the contracting parties; while an accessory obligation depends upon or is collateral to the principal. For example, in the case of the sale of a house and lot of ground, the principal obligation on the part of the vendor is to make title for it; the accessory obligation is to deliver all the title-papers which the vendor has relating to it, to take care of the estate until it is delivered, and the like.See, further, the title accessory obligation.@ pure obligationPure obligation. One which is not suspended by any condition, whether it has been contracted without any condition, or, when thus contracted, the condition has been accomplished.See simple or conditional obligation, below.@ simple or conditional obligation@ simple obligation@ conditional obligationSimple or conditional obligation. Simple obligations are such as are not dependent for their execution on any event provided for by the parties, and which are not agreed to become void on the happening of any such event.Conditional obligations are such as are made to depend on an uncertain event. If the obligation is not to take effect until the event happens, it is a suspensive condition; if the obligation takes effect immediately, but is liable to be defeated when the event happens, it is then a resolutory condition. A simple obligation is also defined as one which is not suspended by any condition, either because it has been contracted without condition, or, having been contracted with one, the condition has been fulfilled; and a conditional obligation is also defined as one the execution of which is suspended by a condition which has not been accomplished, and subject to which it has been contracted.@ single or penal obligation@ single obligation@ penal obligationSingle or penal obligation. A penal obligation is one to which is attached a penal clause, which is to be enforced if the principal obligation be not performed. A single obligation is one without any penalty, as where one simply promises to pay another one hundred dollars. This is called a single bill, when it is under seal.@ solidary obligationIn the law of Louisiana, one which binds each of the obligors for the whole debt, as distinguished from a "joint" obligation, which binds the parties each for his separate proportion of the debt. Groves v. Sentell, 153 U.S. 465, 14 S.Ct. 898, 38 L.Ed. 785.See solidary@
Black's law dictionary. HENRY CAMPBELL BLACK, M. A.. 1990.