\ 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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web The Fed’s goal is to tamp down overall inflation, but the weird circumstances caused by the pandemic mean the housing market might not obey. New York Times, 18 Feb. 2022 Shand must show up for all court proceedings, obey all laws and cannot have contact with any victims or witnesses in the case. Dave Kolpack, orlandosentinel.com, 24 Jan. 2022 There is, therefore, a moral obligation to obey the original meaning of the Constitution. J. Joel Alicea, National Review, 3 May 2022 There exist border collies who won’t herd, and pugs who will; there exist high-strung Great Pyrenees, and beagles who will obey every command. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 28 Apr. 2022 But members of the city’s Linear Creekway Parks Advisory Board said the intersection has blind spots and a sloping roadway that are dangerous — even for those who obey the signage. Scott Huddleston, San Antonio Express-News, 10 Apr. 2022 Brinkman was cited for failure to obey the gates and signals at a rail crossing, which carries a $500 fine for the first offense and increases to $1,000 on subsequent offenses, with a six-month driver’s license suspension, Reile explained. Daniel I. Dorfman, chicagotribune.com, 4 Jan. 2022 Officials are reminding cyclists and motorists to obey signage and keep safety first — especially at the Salado trail crossing. Scott Huddleston, San Antonio Express-News, 10 Apr. 2022 Around the same time Brabrand sent his dress code message, Youngkin’s office issued a statement and a 14-page set of guidelines that purported to clarify how school systems and parents should obey his guidance. Washington Post, 23 Jan. 2022 See More

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

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

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Last Updated

22 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Obey.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obey. Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for obey


\ 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

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.

More from Merriam-Webster on obey

Nglish: Translation of obey for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of obey for Arabic Speakers


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