obei·​sance | \ ō-ˈbē-sᵊn(t)s How to pronounce obeisance (audio) , ə-, -ˈbā- How to pronounce obeisance (audio) \

Definition of obeisance

1 : a movement of the body made in token of respect or submission : bow After making his obeisances he approached the altar.
2 : acknowledgment of another's superiority or importance : homage makes obeisance to her mentors The players paid obeisance to their coach.

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Other Words from obeisance

obeisant \ ō-​ˈbē-​sᵊnt How to pronounce obeisant (audio) , ə-​ , -​ˈbā-​ \ adjective
obeisantly adverb

Did You Know?

When it first appeared in English in the late 14th century, "obeisance" shared the same meaning as "obedience." This makes sense given that "obeisance" can be traced back to the Anglo-French verb obeir, which means "to obey" and is also an ancestor of our word obey. The other senses of "obeisance" also date from the 14th century, but they have stood the test of time whereas the obedience sense is now obsolete.

Examples of obeisance in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web One running theme of the series is the guests’ vocal eagerness to humble themselves before Beyoncé and her empire; DJ Khaled tells an anecdote that doubles as an ace performance of cozy obeisance. Troy Patterson, The New Yorker, "Four Shows at the Center of a Golden Age of Hip-Hop Television," 1 Nov. 2019 That’s unlikely though, given Nigeria’s conservative family culture, which often places obeisance above perceived dissent. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "WhatsApp is the medium of choice for older Nigerians spreading fake news," 22 Oct. 2019 Some also use helicopter services to pay quick obeisance. Washington Post, "India promotes Hindu pilgrimage as sign of peace in Kashmir," 2 Aug. 2019 In Hong Kong this week, local business leaders have been falling all over themselves to affirm obeisance to Beijing. Fortune, "Can Trump ‘Order’ US Firms Out of China? Should He? — CEO Daily," 24 Aug. 2019 But if the cost of that support is an expectation for partisan obeisance, then how much are those policies really worth? Eli Lake, Twin Cities, "Eli Lake: Trump makes Israel look weak," 18 Aug. 2019 Some also use helicopter services to pay quick obeisance. Washington Post, "Hindu pilgrimage begins amid high security in Kashmir," 2 July 2019 The Fed’s policy obeisance to the Phillips curve flattened our economy a decade ago. WSJ, "The Phillips Curve Isn’t a Good Monetary Tool," 31 May 2018 In Oklahoma, Pruitt’s obeisance to the energy industry was sometimes startling. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, "Scott Pruitt’s Dirty Politics," 3 Apr. 2017

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

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First Known Use of obeisance

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for obeisance

Middle English obeissance, obeysaunce "obedience, submission, gesture indicating submission," borrowed from Anglo-French obeissaunce, from obeisant "willing to obey" (from present participle of obeir "to submit to the authority of, obey") + -aunce -ance — more at obey

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Time Traveler for obeisance

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The first known use of obeisance was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

12 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Obeisance.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obeisance. Accessed 12 December 2019.

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More Definitions for obeisance


How to pronounce obeisance (audio) How to pronounce obeisance (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of obeisance

: a movement of your body (such as bowing) that shows respect for someone or something
: respect for someone or something

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Comments on obeisance

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a period of high artistic development

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