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[oh-bey] /oʊˈbeɪ/
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 forms
obeyable, adjective
obeyer, noun
obeyingly, adverb
unobeyed, adjective
unobeying, adjective
well-obeyed, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for obey
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • All that we have is yours, to the very last day of your life you have only to command, and we obey.

    The Magic World Edith Nesbit
  • In a pinch they would obey you nearly as well as they obey me.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • obey any orders you may get, and send out all despatches unless I stop you.

    Secret Service Cyrus Townsend Brady
  • All things are bound to obey Him, He is not bound to obey any.

  • I want you two to promise me that whatever happens you'll obey John and do just as he tells you.

    The Blind Lion of the Congo Elliott Whitney
British Dictionary definitions for obey


to carry out (instructions or orders); comply with (demands)
to behave or act in accordance with (one's feelings, whims, etc)
Derived Forms
obeyer, noun
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for obey

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
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