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From Middle English obeyen, from Anglo-Norman obeir, obeier et al., Old French obeir, from Latin oboedire (also obēdīre (to listen to, harken, usually in extended sense, obey, be subject to, serve)), from ob- (before, near) + audīre (to hear). Compare audient. In Latin, ob + audire would have been expected to become Classical Latin *obūdiō (compare in + claudō becoming inclūdō), but it has been theorized that the usual law court associations of the word for obeying encouraged a false archaism from ū to oe, to oboediō (compare Old Latin oinos → Classical Latin ūnus).[1]



obey (third-person singular simple present obeys, present participle obeying, simple past and past participle obeyed)

  1. (transitive) To do as ordered by (a person, institution etc), to act according to the bidding of.
  2. (intransitive) To do as one is told.
  3. (obsolete, intransitive) To be obedient, compliant (to a given law, restriction etc.).
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, III.iv:
      They were all taught by Triton, to obay / To the long raynes, at her commaundement [...].



Related terms[edit]


Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ page 220, The Latin Language by L.R.Palmer (ISBN 080612136X, ISBN 9780806121369), and online at this link.