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From Middle English abiden, from Old English ābīdan (to abide, wait, remain, delay, remain behind; survive; wait for, await; expect), from Proto-Germanic *uzbīdaną (to expect, tolerate), equivalent to a- +‎ bide. Cognate with Scots abyde (to abide, remain), Middle High German erbīten (to await, expect), Gothic 𐌿𐍃𐌱𐌴𐌹𐌳𐌰𐌽 (usbeidan, to expect, await, have patience). The sense of pay for is due to influence from aby.[1]



abide (third-person singular simple present abides, present participle abiding, simple past abode or abided, past participle abode or abided or (rare) abidden)

  1. Accept, comply or act in accordance.
    The new teacher was strict and the students did not want to abide by his rules.
  2. (intransitive, obsolete) To wait in expectation. [Attested from prior to 1150 until the mid 17th century.][2]
  3. (intransitive, obsolete) To pause; to delay. [Attested from around (1150 to 1350) until the mid 17th century.][2]
  4. (intransitive) To stay; to continue in a place; to remain stable or fixed in some state or condition; to be left. [First attested from around (1150 to 1350).][2]
  5. (intransitive, archaic) To have one's abode; to dwell; to reside; to sojourn. [First attested from around (1350 to 1470).][2]
  6. (intransitive) To endure; to remain; to last. [First attested from around (1350 to 1470).][2]
    • 1998, Sam Elliot as Narrator, The Big Lebowski:
      The Dude abides.
  7. (transitive) To stand ready for; to await for someone; watch for. [First attested prior to around 1150.][2]
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, chapter viij, in Le Morte Darthur, book XIII:
      Allas sayd she that euer I sawe yow / but he that suffred vpon the crosse for alle mankynde he be vnto yow good conduyte and saufte / and alle the hole felauship / Ryght soo departed Launcelot / & fond his felauship that abode his comyng / and so they mounted on their horses / and rode thorou the strete of Camelot
    • Bonds and afflictions abide me.
    • 1856-1885, Alfred Tennyson, Idylls of the King:
      I will abide the coming of my lord.
  8. (transitive) To endure without yielding; to withstand; await defiantly; to encounter; to persevere. [First attested from around (1150 to 1350).][2]
    The old oak tree abides the wind endlessly.
  9. (transitive, obsolete) To endure or undergo a hard trial or a task; to stand up under. [Attested from around (1150 to 1350) until the early 18th century.][2]
    • 1856-1885, Alfred Tennyson, Idylls of the King:
      [] And shalt abide her judgment on it.
  10. (transitive) To await submissively; accept without question; submit to. [First attested from around (1350 to 1470).][2]
    • 1597, William Shakespeare, Richard II:
      To abide thy kingly doom.
  11. (transitive) To bear patiently; to tolerate; to put up with; stand. [First attested in the late 15th century.][2]
  12. (transitive) To pay for; to stand the consequences of; to answer for; to suffer for; to atone for. [First attested in the late 16th century.][2]
    • 1667, John Milton, Paradise Lost:
      How dearly I abide that boast so vain, []
  13. A component in at least one phrasal verb: abide by.

Usage notes[edit]

  • (bear patiently): Used in the negative form can't abide is used to indicate strong dislike.

Related terms[edit]


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See also[edit]


  1. ^ Philip Babcock Gove (editor), Webster's Third International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (G. & C. Merriam Co., 1976 [1909], ISBN 0-87779-101-5), page 3
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 Lesley Brown (editor), The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 5th edition (Oxford University Press, 2003 [1933], ISBN 978-0198605751), page 4