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 (do͞o′tē, dyo͞o′-)
n. pl. du·ties
a. An act or a course of action that is required of one by position, social custom, law, or religion: the duties of being a critical care nurse.
b. Required action or service: jury duty; beyond the call of duty. See Synonyms at function.
c. Active military service: a tour of duty.
a. Moral or legal obligation: It is your duty to tell the truth.
b. The compulsion felt to meet such obligation: acting out of duty.
3. A tax charged by a government, especially on imports.
a. The application of something for a purpose; use: The dining room table also does duty as a desk.
b. A measure of efficiency expressed as the amount of work done per unit of energy used.
5. The total volume of water required to irrigate a given area in order to cultivate a specific crop until harvest.
duty bound
Obliged: You are duty bound to help your little sister and brother.
off duty
Not engaged in or responsible for assigned work.
on duty
Engaged in or responsible for assigned work.

[Middle English duete, from Anglo-Norman, from due, variant of Old French deu, due; see due.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


pl n
tasks to be done as part of one's job. See also duty
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
References in classic literature ?
Duties on imported articles form a large branch of this latter description.
In America, it is evident that we must a long time depend for the means of revenue chiefly on such duties. In most parts of it, excises must be confined within a narrow compass.
"But if women, as a rare exception, can occupy such positions, it seems to me you are wrong in using the expression 'rights.' It would be more correct to say duties. Every man will agree that in doing the duty of a juryman, a witness, a telegraph clerk, we feel we are performing duties.
"The question, I imagine, is simply whether they are fitted for such duties."
Of course he is right there," said Countess Mary, "but he forgets that we have other duties nearer to us, duties indicated to us by God Himself, and that though we might expose ourselves to risks we must not risk our children."
The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
"I suppose you lived long enough to learn your duties?"
{compromise law = the American Tariff Act of 1832, which reduced tariffs on some items, but retained the high customs duties on the import of textile products}
They took their meals in his cabin, as they had before the unfortunate occurrence; but the captain was careful to see that his duties never permitted him to eat at the same time.
The Vicar did feel then as if his share of duties would be easy.
I have now returned to work, and am applying myself diligently to my duties. Also, yesterday Evstafi Ivanovitch exchanged a word or two with me.
Parsons' wives have to do the housework and cooking themselves, and are thus not only cooks and housemaids, but if they have children-- and they always do have children--they are head and under nurse as well; and besides these trifling duties have a good deal to do with their fruit and vegetable garden, and everything to do with their poultry.