obe·​di·​ence | \ ō-ˈbē-dē-ən(t)s How to pronounce obedience (audio) , ə- \

Definition of obedience

1a : an act or instance of obeying
b : the quality or state of being obedient Children should learn obedience and respect for authority.
2 : a sphere of jurisdiction landowners within the king's obedience especially : an ecclesiastical or sometimes secular dominion under the obedience of the Bishop of Rome

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of obedience in a Sentence

the drill sergeant demanded complete and unquestioning obedience from the recruits the cowardly obedience with which the dictator's henchmen followed his every command
Recent Examples on the Web Oodles of Reddit posts catalog moments of violation: housemates or family unwittingly captured on camera, normal body movements flagged as illicit behavior, and the existential exhaustion of performing obedience. Clive Thompson, Wired, "What AI College Exam Proctors Are Really Teaching Our Kids," 20 Oct. 2020 At the other end of his kingdom was rebellious Marseille, reduced in person by the young king to trembling obedience and kept in that state by a garrison of 6,000 and two new forts. Tim Blanning, WSJ, "‘King of the World’ Review: Solar Power," 16 Oct. 2020 The manual outlines proper dress, grooming, behavior and deportment for a waitress, and the expectation that all of her customers will be men, who will expect quiet obedience. Susan Dunne, courant.com, "New Britain Museum of American Art keeps focus on women, art and social change," 5 Oct. 2020 Everything the left is undertaking at this moment is designed to fundamentally alter our American institutions and intimidate us into silence and obedience. Jason Lewis, Star Tribune, "Jason Lewis: This election is a choice between anarchy and American values," 5 Oct. 2020 Zeke shines at obedience and flies through agility work. Phil Bourjaily, Field & Stream, "A Hunting Dog’s First Year in the Field," 25 Sep. 2020 In the Bible, God demanded that Abraham show obedience by killing his son Isaac. Michael A. Vargas, The Conversation, "Sacred violence is not yet ancient history – beating it will take human action, not divine intervention," 25 Sep. 2020 In this sci-fi thriller, a group of young men and women bred for intelligence and obedience embark on an expedition to colonize a distant planet. Kathleen Christiansen, orlandosentinel.com, "Fall movies: Lineup includes James Bond, Wonder Woman and more," 23 Sep. 2020 The shofar signifies the presence of God and is a powerful symbol of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac, to show obedience to God by reminding us of the ram that was provided in Isaac’s place. Dwight Adams, USA TODAY, "Rosh Hashanah 2020: The two-day Jewish celebration starts Friday and leads into Yom Kippur later this month," 18 Sep. 2020

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

See More

First Known Use of obedience

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for obedience

Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin oboedientia "act of obeying" (Medieval Latin also, "sphere of jurisdiction"), noun derivative of oboedient-, oboedient obedient

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about obedience

Time Traveler for obedience

Time Traveler

The first known use of obedience was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for obedience

Last Updated

26 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Obedience.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obedience. Accessed 31 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for obedience


obe·​di·​ence | \ ō-ˈbē-dē-əns How to pronounce obedience (audio) \

Kids Definition of obedience

: the act of obeying : willingness to obey

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on obedience

What made you want to look up obedience? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Here Be Dragons: A Creature Identification Quiz

  • monster werewolf photo
  • Which is a synonym of werewolf?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!