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Webster 1913 Edition


Duty

Du′ty

,
Noun.
;
pl.
Duties
(#)
.
[From
Due
.]
1.
That which is due; payment.
[Obs. as signifying a material thing.]
When thou receivest money for thy labor or ware, thou receivest thy
duty
.
Tyndale.
2.
That which a person is bound by moral obligation to do, or refrain from doing; that which one ought to do; service morally obligatory.
Forgetting his
duty
toward God, his sovereign lord, and his country.
Hallam.
3.
Hence, any assigned service or business;
as, the
duties
of a policeman, or a soldier; to be on
duty
.
With records sweet of
duties
done.
Keble.
To employ him on the hardest and most imperative
duty
.
Hallam.
Duty
is a graver term than obligation. A
duty
hardly exists to do trivial things; but there may be an obligation to do them.
C. J. Smith.
4.
Specifically, obedience or submission due to parents and superiors.
Shak.
5.
Respect; reverence; regard; act of respect; homage.
“My duty to you.”
Shak.
6.
(Engin.)
The efficiency of an engine, especially a steam pumping engine, as measured by work done by a certain quantity of fuel; usually, the number of pounds of water lifted one foot by one bushel of coal (94 lbs. old standard), or by 1 cwt. (112 lbs., England, or 100 lbs., United States).
7.
(Com.)
Tax, toll, impost, or customs; excise; any sum of money required by government to be paid on the importation, exportation, or consumption of goods.
☞ An impost on land or other real estate, and on the stock of farmers, is not called a duty, but a direct tax.
[U.S.]
Ad valorem duty
,
a duty which is graded according to the cost, or market value, of the article taxed. See
Ad valorem
.
Specific duty
,
a duty of a specific sum assessed on an article without reference to its value or market.
On duty
,
actually engaged in the performance of one’s assigned task.

Webster 1828 Edition


Duty

DUTY

,
Noun.
1.
That which a person owes to another; that which a person is bound, by any natural, moral or legal obligation, to pay, do or perform. Obedience to princes, magistrates and the laws is the duty of every citizen and subject; obedience, respect and kindness to parents are duties of children; fidelity to friends is a duty; reverence, obedience and prayer to God are indispensable duties; the government and religious instruction of children are duties of parents which they cannot neglect without guilt.
2.
Forbearance of that which is forbid by morality, law, justice or propriety. It is our duty to refrain from lewdness, intemperance, profaneness and injustice.
3.
Obedience; submission.
4.
Act of reverence or respect.
They both did duty to their lady.
5.
The business of a soldier or marine on guard; as, the company is on duty. It is applied also to other services or labor.
6.
The business of war; military service; as, the regiment did duty in Flanders.
7.
Tax, toll, impost, or customs; excise; any sum of money required by government to be paid on the importation, exportation, or consumption of goods. An impost on land or other real estate, and on the stock of farmers, is not called a duty, but a direct tax.

Definition 2021


duty

duty

See also: dutý

English

Noun

duty (plural duties)

  1. That which one is morally or legally obligated to do.
    We don't have a duty to keep you here.
    • 1805, 21 October, Horatio Nelson
      England expects that every man will do his duty.
    • 1915, Emerson Hough, The Purchase Price, chapterI:
      Captain Edward Carlisle [] felt a curious sensation of helplessness seize upon him as he met her steady gaze, []; he could not tell what this prisoner might do. He cursed the fate which had assigned such a duty, cursed especially that fate which forced a gallant soldier to meet so superb a woman as this under handicap so hard.
    • 1959, Georgette Heyer, chapter 1, in The Unknown Ajax:
      Charles had not been employed above six months at Darracott Place, but he was not such a whopstraw as to make the least noise in the performance of his duties when his lordship was out of humour.
    • 2013 August 10, Lexington, Keeping the mighty honest”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8848:
      British journalists shun complete respectability, feeling a duty to be ready to savage the mighty, or rummage through their bins. Elsewhere in Europe, government contracts and subsidies ensure that press barons will only defy the mighty so far.
  2. A period of time spent at work or doing a particular task.
    I’m on duty from 6 pm to 6 am.
  3. Describing a workload as to its idle, working and de-energized periods.
  4. A tax placed on imports or exports; a tariff, customs duty, excise duty.
  5. (obsolete) One's due, something one is owed; a debt or fee.
  6. (obsolete) Respect; reverence; regard; act of respect; homage.
  7. The efficiency of an engine, especially a steam pumping engine, as measured by work done by a certain quantity of fuel; usually, the number of pounds of water lifted one foot by one bushel of coal (94 lbs. old standard), or by 1 cwt. (112 lbs., England, or 100 lbs., United States).

Usage notes

  • Adjectives often used with "duty": public, private, moral, legal, social, double, civic, contractual, political, judicial, etc.

Synonyms

Antonyms

Derived terms

Related terms

Translations

Statistics

Most common English words before 1923: chief · company · sweet · #613: duty · heavy · single · foot

Lower Sorbian

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): [ˈdutɨ]

Participle

duty

  1. past passive participle of duś

Declension