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Much obliged

Posted by R. Berg on January 28, 2003

In Reply to: Much obliged posted by Jodi on January 27, 2003

: Can anyone tell me where the saying "Much obliged" or "Most obliged" came from?

The earliest quotation for this phrase in the Oxford English Dictionary is dated approx. 1548:
"Chron. Henry VII" Yf yt chaunce me by your ayde . . . to recover . . . I . . . shalbe so muche obliged and bounde unto you.

The OED defines this sense of "oblige" as "To be bound to a person by ties of gratitude; to owe or feel gratitude; to be indebted to a person (or thing) for something. Now said only in reference to small services, esp. in making an acknowledgement or request; also, formally, where there is no real indebtedness, as in ordering goods from a tradesman, etc."