verb (used with object)

to comply with or follow the commands, restrictions, wishes, or instructions of: to obey one's parents.
to comply with or follow (a command, restriction, wish, instruction, etc.).
(of things) to respond conformably in action to: The car obeyed the slightest touch of the steering wheel.
to submit or conform in action to (some guiding principle, impulse, one's conscience, etc.).

verb (used without object)

to be obedient: to agree to obey.

Origin of obey

1250–1300; Middle English obeien < Old French obeir < Latin oboedīre, equivalent to ob- ob- + audīre to hear; -oe- for expected -ū- is unclear
Related formso·bey·a·ble, adjectiveo·bey·er, nouno·bey·ing·ly, adverbun·o·beyed, adjectiveun·o·bey·ing, adjectivewell-o·beyed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for obeying

Contemporary Examples of obeying

Historical Examples of obeying

  • Obeying a quick impulse, Percival stepped to the curb as she came opposite to him.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • It is a delight to atone for a fault by obeying your commands.

  • He gave me generally to understand that he was only obeying a custom of Modern Society.

    Alarms and Discursions

    G. K. Chesterton

  • A honouring and obeying wife would let his trade alone altogether.

    A Tale of Two Cities

    Charles Dickens

  • He had been told to sweep out and dust, and he was obeying orders.

British Dictionary definitions for obeying



to carry out (instructions or orders); comply with (demands)
to behave or act in accordance with (one's feelings, whims, etc)
Derived Formsobeyer, noun

Word Origin for obey

C13: from Old French obéir, from Latin oboedīre, from ob- to, towards + audīre to hear
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 obeying



late 13c., from Old French obeir "obey, be obedient, do one's duty" (12c.), from Latin obedire, oboedire "obey, be subject, serve; pay attention to, give ear," literally "listen to," from ob "to" (see ob-) + audire "listen, hear" (see audience). Same sense development is in cognate Old English hiersumnian. Related: Obeyed; obeying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper