- Ought is defined as should, expected to or compelled by duty or desire.
An example of ought is someone feeling like they should take out the garbage, they ought to take out the garbage.
- to be compelled by obligation or duty [he ought to pay his debts] or by desirability: you ought to eat more
- to be expected or likely: it ought to be over soon
Origin of oughtorigin, originally , past tense of owe: Middle English aughte ; from Old English ahte, past participle of agan, owe
Origin of oughtvariant, variety of aught
Origin of ought; from (a n)ought
- Used to indicate obligation or duty: You ought to work harder than that.
- Used to indicate advisability or prudence: You ought to wear a raincoat.
- Used to indicate desirability: You ought to have been there; it was great fun.
- Used to indicate probability or likelihood: She ought to finish by next week.
Origin of oughtMiddle English oughten, to be obliged to, from oughte, owned, from Old English āhte, past tense of āgan, to possess; see aik- in Indo-European roots. Usage Note: Unlike other auxiliary verbs, ought usually takes to with its accompanying verb: We ought to go. Sometimes the accompanying verb is dropped if the meaning is clear: Should we begin soon? Yes, we ought to. In questions and negative sentences, especially those with contractions, to is also sometimes omitted: Oughtn't we be going soon? This omission of to, however, is not common in written English. Like must and auxiliary need, ought to does not change to show past tense: He said we ought to get moving along. • Usages such as He hadn't ought to come and She shouldn't ought to say that are common in many varieties of American English. They should be avoided in written English, however, in favor of the standard ought not to.
& adv.Chiefly British
- 1603, John Florio, translating Michel de Montaigne, Essays, Folio Society 2006, vol. 1 p. 182:
- witnesse Aristippus, who being urged with the affection he ought his children, as proceeding from his loynes, began to spit [...].
(third-person singular simple present ought, present participle -, simple past -, past participle ought)
- (auxiliary) Indicating duty or obligation.
- I ought to vote in the coming election.
- (auxiliary) Indicating advisability or prudence.
- You ought to stand back from the edge of the platform.
- (auxiliary) Indicating desirability.
- He ought to read the book; it was very good.
- (auxiliary) Indicating likelihood or probability.
- We ought to arrive by noon if we take the motorway.
- Ought is an auxiliary verb; it takes a following verb as its complement. This verb may appear either as a full infinitive (such as "to go") or a bare infinitive (such as simple "go"), depending on region and speaker; the same range of meanings is possible in either case. Additionally, it's possible for ought not to take any complement, in which case a verb complement is implied, as in, "You really ought to [do so]."
- The negative of ought is either ought not (to) or oughtn't (to)
- Alternative spelling of aught. at all, to any degree.
- A statement of what ought to be the case as contrasted to what is the case.
Old English āhte, past tense of āgan (“own, possess”)