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[oh-bey-suh ns, oh-bee-] /oʊˈbeɪ səns, oʊˈbi-/
a movement of the body expressing deep respect or deferential courtesy, as before a superior; a bow, curtsy, or other similar gesture.
deference or homage:
The nobles gave obeisance to the new king.
1325-75; Middle English obeisaunce < Middle French obeissance, derivative of Old French obeissant, present participle of obeir to obey; see -ance
Related forms
obeisant, adjective
obeisantly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for obeisance
  • Then she did him obeisance, and stood respectfully at one side.
  • Even if this were only a ritual expression of obeisance, it would stand in contrast to his customarily belligerent behavior.
  • Actually, with its disappointments and shortcomings, it is more of an obeisance to television.
  • Filling up the shoeboxes can be a lot more fun than mere obeisance to the orderliness imposed by others.
British Dictionary definitions for obeisance


/əʊˈbeɪsəns; əʊˈbiː-/
an attitude of deference or homage
a gesture expressing obeisance
Derived Forms
obeisant, adjective
obeisantly, 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
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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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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obeisance in the Bible

homage or reverence to any one (Gen. 37:7; 43:28).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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