\ 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web The women deny charges of failing to obey the lawful commands of the aircraft's captain and assault by beating on board. Jack Guy, CNN, "Woman allegedly bit airline pilot in fight over stroller, prosecutors tell court," 5 Mar. 2020 As the suspects fled the store in a gray Chevrolet Impala, they were pursued by Goodyear police, and failed to obey orders to stop, court records say. Christopher Roth, azcentral, "Pair hurt in police shooting in Queen Creek was wanted for $25,000 of shoplifting," 27 Jan. 2020 At the time, he was cited for failing to obey a stop sign, causing great bodily harm. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Facebook comments lead to homicide charge in Cedarburg crash from July," 31 Dec. 2019 He also was cited for harassment and failing to obey a park officer’s order. oregonlive, "Anti-abortion street preacher sues city of Portland, alleging his exclusion from Waterfront Park was unconstitutional," 28 Oct. 2019 Thompson on Friday held two of those jurors in contempt of court, an admonishment from the court for failing to obey or respect the court and punishable by a fine. NBC News, "Prosecutors will retry man in 'Ghost Ship' warehouse fire that killed 36," 5 Oct. 2019 An attempt by guards to intervene to prevent Russian Islamic State women from administering beatings against two women who had failed to obey their rules were confronted by stone throwing women, two of whom pulled guns, according to the officials. Liz Sly, Washington Post, "Militant women poised to take control of ISIS camp, Syrian Kurdish general says," 4 Oct. 2019 And though much has changed since the 2015 shooting, Anderson and Moore had at least one thing else in common: Both spent long stretches in Cook County Jail before the trial after their arrests for failing to obey subpoenas and show up in court. Megan Crepeau, chicagotribune.com, "Four reluctant witnesses at trial into Tyshawn Lee’s killing jailed to ensure their testimony," 21 Sep. 2019 She was also cited for failing to pay attention while driving and failing to obey traffic signals. Adam Ferrise, cleveland.com, "Woman charged in crash that killed bicyclist in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood," 10 Sep. 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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Statistics for obey

Last Updated

12 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Obey.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obey. Accessed 3 Apr. 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

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.

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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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