\ ō-ˈbā How to pronounce obey (audio) , ə- \
obeyed; obeying

Definition of obey

transitive verb

1 : to follow the commands or guidance of He always obeys his parents.
2 : to conform to or comply with obey an order Falling objects obey the laws of physics.

intransitive verb

: to behave obediently The dog does not always obey.

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Other Words from obey

obeyer noun

Choose the Right Synonym for obey

obey and mind mean to do what a person says. obey is used when someone quickly yields to the authority of another or follows a rule or law. Obey your parents. Obey all traffic laws. mind is used like obey especially when speaking to children but it often means paying attention to the wishes or commands of another. Mind what I said about talking.

Examples of obey in a Sentence

His dog has learned to obey several commands. He always obeys his parents. The children must obey the rules. The children must learn to obey.
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Recent Examples on the Web The woman was also cited for no turn signal, driving left of center, not obeying traffic control devices and not wearing a seatbelt. John Benson, cleveland, "Drunk, trash-throwing mother arrested for disorderly conduct: North Royalton Police Blotter," 29 Jan. 2020 The vital lesson of analytics is not to obey the numbers no matter what, experts said. Author: Sam Fortier, Anchorage Daily News, "The NFL’s analytics movement has finally reached the sport’s mainstream," 19 Jan. 2020 The fear is not so much of devices that stop obeying instructions and instead follow their own agenda, but rather of something that does what it is told (or, at least, attempts to do so), but does it in a way that is incomprehensible. The Economist, "AI in societyFor artificial intelligence to thrive, it must explain itself," 15 Feb. 2018 Watch the hooves of a dying creature frantically scrabbling to escape, trying to obey signals from its brain that its body can no longer execute. David E. Petzal, Field & Stream, "When Is it Time to Stop Pulling the Trigger?," 3 Dec. 2019 There have been some teething problems: Vague gossip about injuries, social media gripes from pedestrians about rude young scooter hoodlums, complaints about scofflaws not obeying the rules of the road. al, "So, what’s it like to ride a Gotcha scooter in Mobile?," 10 Jan. 2020 Here’s why: The bitcoin market doesn’t obey the same rules as the stock market. Matthew De Silva, Quartz, "What the booming stock market means for bitcoin," 9 Jan. 2020 The woman was also cited for not obeying a traffic control device. John Benson, cleveland.com, "Illegally-tinted windows lead police to loaded gun: Broadview Heights Police Blotter," 11 Sep. 2019 Keith also frequently used crude and derogatory words to describe women and gay people, and threatened to punish staff who didn't obey his orders, sources said. Mary Spicuzza, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC staffer accused of sexual harassment no longer working for group," 16 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'obey.' 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 obey

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for obey

Middle English obeien, borrowed from Anglo-French obeir, going back to Latin oboedīre, from ob- "toward, in the direction of" + -oedīre, probably unstressed form (with -oe- of uncertain origin) of audīre "to hear" — more at ob-, audible entry 1

Note: The -oe- in oboedīre is peculiar both because it is not the expected result of -au- in a non-initial syllable (the regular outcome is -ū-) and because -oe- is in any case rare non-initially. Various attempts have been made to account for the irregularity. Reflecting earlier suggestions, Michiel de Vaan hypothesizes pre-Latin *ób-awizdijō > *obowizdijō > *oboizdijō (rounding of a before w, which is then lost, prior to the weakening of a to u) > oboediō (with z blocking monophthongization of -oi- to -ū- before succumbing to cluster reduction) (see Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the Other Italic Languages, Brill, 2008). As an alternative to assumptions of questionable phonetic change, it has also been suggested that a base other than audīre is at issue (Michael Weiss suggests *ob-bhoi̯diō, from a nominal derivative of the base of fīdere "to trust" [see faith entry 1]; see Outline of the Historical and Comparative Grammar of Latin, Ann Arbor, 2009, p. 120).

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Time Traveler for obey

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

13 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Obey.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obey. Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for obey


How to pronounce obey (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of obey

: to do what someone tells you to do or what a rule, law, etc., says you must do


\ ō-ˈbā How to pronounce obey (audio) \
obeyed; obeying

Kids Definition of obey

1 : to follow the commands or guidance of Dogs are trained to obey their masters.
2 : to comply with : carry out obey an order obey the rules

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More from Merriam-Webster on obey

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for obey

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with obey

Spanish Central: Translation of obey

Nglish: Translation of obey for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of obey for Arabic Speakers

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