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  1. the state or quality of being obedient.
  2. the act or practice of obeying; dutiful or submissive compliance: Military service demands obedience from its members.
  3. a sphere of authority or jurisdiction, especially ecclesiastical.
  4. Chiefly Ecclesiastical.
    1. conformity to a monastic rule or the authority of a religious superior, especially on the part of one who has vowed such conformance.
    2. the rule or authority that exacts such conformance.

Origin of obedience

1150–1200; Middle English < Old French < Latin oboedientia. See obedient, -ence
Related formso·ver·o·be·di·ence, nounpre·o·be·di·ence, nounsu·per·o·be·di·ence, noun

Synonyms for obedience

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for obedience


  1. the condition or quality of being obedient
  2. the act or an instance of obeying; dutiful or submissive behaviour
  3. the authority vested in a Church or similar body
  4. the collective group of persons submitting to this authoritySee also passive obedience
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for obedience

c.1200, "submission to a higher power or authority," from Old French obedience "obedience, submission" (12c.) and directly from Latin oboedientia "obedience," noun of quality from oboedientem (nominative oboediens); see obedient. In reference to dog training from 1930.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper