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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English obeisaunce (obedience, obeisance), from Old French obeïssance, derived from obeïssant (obedient), participle of obeïr (to obey), from Latin oboedire, obedire; ob- (to, for) + audire (to hear). Cognate with obedience.


  • IPA(key): /oʊˈbeɪsəns/, /oʊˈbiːsəns/, /əˈbeɪsəns/, /əˈbiːsəns/
  • Hyphenation: o‧bei‧sance
  • Rhymes: -eɪsəns
  • (file)
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Particularly: "UK"


obeisance (countable and uncountable, plural obeisances)

  1. Demonstration of an obedient attitude, especially by bowing deeply; a deep bow which demonstrates such an attitude.
    • 1845, Edgar Allan Poe, "The Raven":
      Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
      In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;
      Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
      But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door —
      Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door —
      Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
    • 1915, Edward Plunkett, Lord Dunsany, Fifty-One Tales:
      But looking upwards in the blaze of the moon I suddenly saw colossi sitting near, and towering up and blotting out the stars and filling the night with blackness; and at those idols’ feet I saw praying and making obeisance kings and the days that are and all times and all cities and all nations and all their gods.
    • 1962, J. L. Austin, How To Do Things With Words (OUP paperback edition), p. 69:
      The situation in the case of actions which are non-linguistic but similar to performative utterances in that they are the performance of a conventional action (here ritual or ceremonial) is rather like this: suppose I bow deeply before you; it might not be clear whether I am doing obeisance to you or, say, stooping to observe the flora or to ease my indigestion.
  2. An obedient attitude.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Usually in the phrases do obeisance or make obeisance.


See also[edit]