• synonyms


[oh-bey-suh ns, oh-bee-]
See more synonyms for obeisance on Thesaurus.com
  1. a movement of the body expressing deep respect or deferential courtesy, as before a superior; a bow, curtsy, or other similar gesture.
  2. deference or homage: The nobles gave obeisance to the new king.
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Origin of obeisance

1325–75; Middle English obeisaunce < Middle French obeissance, derivative of Old French obeissant, present participle of obeir to obey; see -ance
Related formso·bei·sant, adjectiveo·bei·sant·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

salaam, fealty, praise, homage, loyalty, allegiance, kowtow, reverence, genuflection, deference, respect, bow, curtsy, honor

Examples from the Web for obeisance

Historical Examples

  • Pani rose and made an obeisance, and brought forward a chair.

    A Little Girl in Old Detroit

    Amanda Minnie Douglas

  • Jacintha came in with the tonic in a glass, and retired with an obeisance.

    White Lies

    Charles Reade

  • To the Governor-General, however, the Sultan must do obeisance.

    From Jungle to Java

    Arthur Keyser

  • Taking the offered money, she made an obeisance, and withdrew.

  • The sisters sang their hymn, made their obeisance, and departed.

    Gryll Grange

    Thomas Love Peacock

British Dictionary definitions for obeisance


  1. an attitude of deference or homage
  2. a gesture expressing obeisance
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Derived Formsobeisant, adjectiveobeisantly, adverb

Word Origin

C14: from Old French obéissant, present participle of obéir to obey
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 obeisance


late 14c., "act or fact of obeying," from Old French obeissance "obedience, service, feudal duty" (13c.), from obeissant, present participle of obeir "obey," from Latin oboedire (see obey). Sense in English altered late 14c. to "bending or prostration of the body as a gesture of submission or respect" by confusion with abaisance. Related: Obeisant.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper