Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To carry out or fulfill the command, order, or instruction of.
  • transitive v. To carry out or comply with (a command, for example).
  • intransitive v. To behave obediently.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To do as ordered by (a person, institution etc), to act according to the bidding of.
  • v. To do as one is told.
  • v. To be obedient, compliant (to a given law, restriction etc.).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To give obedience.
  • transitive v. To give ear to; to execute the commands of; to yield submission to; to comply with the orders of.
  • transitive v. To submit to the authority of; to be ruled by.
  • transitive v. To yield to the impulse, power, or operation of.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To comply with the wishes or commands of; submit to, as in duty bound; be subject to; serve with dutifulness.
  • To comply with; carry out; perform; execute.
  • To submit to the power, control, or influence of: as, a ship obeys her helm.
  • To submit (one's self).
  • To yield or give up; submit to power, authority, control, or influence; do as bidden or directed: as, will you obey? Formerly sometimes followed by to.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. be obedient to

Etymologies

Middle English obeien, from Old French obeir, from Latin oboedīre, to listen to : ob-, to; see ob- + audīre, to hear; see au- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Anglo-Norman obeir, obeier et al., Old French obeir, from Latin oboedire (also obēdīre ("to listen to, harken, usually in extended sense, obey, be subject to, serve")), from ob- ("before, near") + audīre ("to hear"). Compare audient. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Helen, in a cream-colored sheath, her hair clipped with a beaded tiara, repeated similar promises, her throat tightening ever so slightly around the word obey.

    Sea Escape

  • He thought Alesandra had already fallen asleep and was just easing away from her when she whispered, “I dislike the word obey, Colin.”

    Castles and The Lion’s Lady

  • In the modern vows, however, the word 'obey' is excluded.

    BBC News - Home

  • The only rule the king has to obey is that eventually he has to call every prisoner in an arbitrary number of times.

    Boing Boing: October 9, 2005 - October 15, 2005 Archives

  • They must live here or there, marry so and so, or forfeit favour -- in short, obey the parental head.

    The Toilers of the Field

  • So they returned to the palace, mourning for their separation from him, especially the youngest, with whom no rest would stay nor would Patience her call obey, but she wept night and day.

    Arabian nights. English

  • Equality is the soul of friendship: marriage, to give delight, must join two minds, not devote a slave to the will of an imperious lord; whatever conveys the idea of subjection necessarily destroys that of love, of which I am so convinced, that I have always wished the word obey expunged from the marriage ceremony.

    The History of Emily Montague

  • God had often declared that to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams, that sacrifice and offering he would not; the legal sacrifices had their virtue and value from the institution, and the reference they had to Christ the great propitiation; but otherwise, of themselves, it was impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume IV (Isaiah to Malachi)

  • To obey is better than sacrifice; for angels obey, but do not sacrifice.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume III (Job to Song of Solomon)

  • No; to obey is better than sacrifice, and to love God and our neighbour better than all burnt-offerings, so much better that God by his prophets often told them that their sacrifices were not only not acceptable, but abominable, to him, while they lived in sin; instead of pleasing him, he looked upon them as a mockery, and therefore an affront and provocation to him; see Prov. xv.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume III (Job to Song of Solomon)

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