verb \ ə-ˈbīd \
|Updated on: 13 Aug 2018

Definition of abide

abided also abode play \-ˈbōd\; abiding
1 a : to bear patiently : tolerate
  • cannot abide such bigots
b : to endure without yielding : withstand
  • abide the onrush of the enemy
2 : to wait for : await
  • I will abide the coming of my lord.
  • —Alfred Tennyson
3 : to accept without objection
  • will abide your decision
1 : to remain stable or fixed in a state
  • a love that abided with him all his days
2 : to continue in a place : sojourn
  • will abide in the house of the Lord


abide by
1 : to conform to
  • abide by the rules
2 : to accept without objection : to acquiesce in
  • will abide by your decision

abide was our Word of the Day on 04/02/2018. Hear the podcast!

Examples of abide in a Sentence

  1. Now his anger had poisoned all relationships, no one could be put in the two empty beds in the room, and not even his long-suffering sister could abide him in her house. —Peter PounceyRules for Old Men Waiting2005
  2. A former party functionary, Yeltsin replaced Communist ideology with a supremely simplified vision of democracy, which boiled down to two tenets: He could not abide Communists, and he supported freedom of the press. —Masha GessenNew Republic5 June 2000
  3. abide in the house of the Lord

  4. a love that abided till the end of their lives

Recent Examples of abide from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'abide.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

The Use of abide in Literature and Popular Culture

The comments by users of this dictionary suggest that many people who are interested in the meaning of the word abide are motivated by one of two rather distinct things: the Bible, in which, for instance, Jesus calls upon his followers to "abide in me"; and the movie The Big Lebowski, in which Jeffrey Lebowski (aka "The Dude") proclaims that "The Dude abides." Both the movie and the book have done much to keep the word in general current usage. Though the sources are wildly different, in each of these particular examples, abide is used as it is defined at the first intransitive sense: "to remain stable or fixed in a state." In the phrase "abide in me," Jesus is asking his followers to stay constant in their relationship to him. The exact meaning of "The Dude abides" is a topic of some debate, but clearly there is some notion of the constancy of Lebowski himself—metaphysically perhaps—being asserted.

Although the phrase can’t abide has for some the feeling of a modern colloquialism, it has been pointed out that such use dates back at least as far as Shakespeare: in Henry IV, Part II, Falstaff says “she would always say she could not abide Master Shallow.”

Did You Know?

Abide may sound rather old-fashioned these days. The word has been around since before the 12th century, but it is a bit rare now, except in certain specialized uses. Even more archaic to our modern ear is "abidden," the original past participle of "abide." Today, both the past and the past participle of "abide" are served by either "abode" or "abided," with "abided" being the more frequent choice. "Abide" turns up often in the phrase "can't (or couldn't) abide." The expression "abide by," which means "to conform to" or "to acquiesce in," is also common. Related terms include the participial adjective "abiding" (which means "enduring" or "continuing," as in "an abiding interest in nature"), the noun "abidance" ("continuance" or "compliance"), and the noun "abode" ("residence").

Origin and Etymology of abide

Middle English abiden, going back to Old English abīdan, from a-, perfective prefix + bīdan "to bide, wait"; a- (also ā-, ǣ- under stress in nominal derivatives) akin to Old Frisian a-, perfective prefix, Old Saxon ā-, ō- (unstressed a-) and probably to Old English or- "outward, extreme, lacking (in nominal compounds)," Old Frisian & Old Saxon ur-, or-, Old High German ar-, ir-, er- unstressed inchoative verb prefix, ur "out of, away from," Old Norse ūr-, ör-, "out of, from," ør-, privative prefix, Gothic us- "out of," us-, privative and perfective prefix; if from pre-Germanic *ud-s- akin to Old English ūt "out" — more at 1out, bide

Synonym Discussion of abide

bear, suffer, endure, abide, tolerate, stand mean to put up with something trying or painful. bear usually implies the power to sustain without flinching or breaking.
    • forced to bear a tragic loss
suffer often suggests acceptance or passivity rather than courage or patience in bearing.
    • suffering many insults
endure implies continuing firm or resolute through trials and difficulties.
    • endured years of rejection
abide suggests acceptance without resistance or protest.
    • cannot abide their rudeness
tolerate suggests overcoming or successfully controlling an impulse to resist, avoid, or resent something injurious or distasteful.
    • refused to tolerate such treatment
stand emphasizes even more strongly the ability to bear without discomposure or flinching.
    • unable to stand teasing
continue, last, endure, abide, persist mean to exist over a period of time or indefinitely. continue applies to a process going on without ending.
    • the search for peace will continue
last, especially when unqualified, may stress existing beyond what is normal or expected.
    • buy shoes that will last
endure adds an implication of resisting destructive forces or agencies.
    • in spite of everything, her faith endured
abide implies stable and constant existing especially as opposed to mutability.
    • a love that abides through 40 years of marriage
persist suggests outlasting the normal or appointed time and often connotes obstinacy or doggedness.
    • the sense of guilt persisted

ABIDE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of abide for English Language Learners

  • : to accept or bear (someone or something bad, unpleasant, etc.)

  • : to stay or live somewhere

  • : to remain or continue

ABIDE Defined for Kids


verb \ ə-ˈbīd \

Definition of abide for Students

abode \-ˈbōd\ or abided; abiding
1 : to put up with patiently : tolerate
  • They won't abide bad behavior.
2 : 1last 1, endure
  • His love for his work abided until he died.
3 : to stay or live in a place
  • … I shall abide near her all through the night.
  • —E. B. White, The Trumpet of the Swan
abide by
: to accept the terms of : obey
  • She was forced to abide by the rules.

Law Dictionary


transitive verb

legal Definition of abide

abode or abided; abiding
: to accept without objection
abide by
: to act or behave in accordance with or in obedience to

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fullness to the point of excess

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