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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.
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 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
Historical Examples
  • And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth, and did obeisance.

    The Bible Story Rev. Newton Marshall Hall
  • The sisters sang their hymn, made their obeisance, and departed.

    Gryll Grange Thomas Love Peacock
  • In the middle there was a chair to which obeisance was made, it being considered as the seat of the Grand Seignior.

  • And when he made his obeisance to David, he inquired of him whence he came.

    The Antiquities of the Jews Flavius Josephus
  • He spake little more, and presently he stood up, made his obeisance, and departed.

  • Sweeping the cavaliers' obeisance, gallantest of bows, they rode away.

  • Would not all the peoples of the earth come to do obeisance to Israel by submitting to Israel's Law?

    The Origin of Paul's Religion J. Gresham Machen
  • With equal coolness and courtesy he met the cavalier's obeisance.

    Legends and Tales Bret Harte
  • His step was feeble, so that his obeisance was stopped by the monarch himself.

    The Fair God Lew Wallace
  • She made no salutation or obeisance to the ruler or to the old men, and they made none to her.

    Pharaoh's Broker Ellsworth Douglass
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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