Definition of obedience in English:



  • 1[mass noun] Compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another's authority.

    ‘children were taught to show their parents obedience’
    ‘obedience to moral standards’
    • ‘Even in his strongest statements on the subject, Martin depicts the proposed changes as a matter of obedience to the courts, rather than to the principles on which Canada operates.’
    • ‘The church was remarkably successful in implanting tradition, respect for hierarchy and obedience to authority in French Canadian society.’
    • ‘Deference and obedience to elders is considered extremely important.’
    • ‘The 18th century philosophers wanted to liberate man from the shackles of blind faith and obedience to authority.’
    • ‘The most important qualities of a good child are respect for the elderly and obedience to parental authority.’
    • ‘He said that exercises at schools focused more on obedience to authority, to the teacher and school regulations, which was another way of instilling obedience to the state and the ruler.’
    • ‘The idea of obedience to a discipline struck him as mildly revolting.’
    • ‘Niuean society is a gerontocracy based on obedience to and respect for those who are older than oneself, with special accord being given to males and those who are first-borns.’
    • ‘The point is, you've torn down the person's sense of self and convinced them that they only way they can succeed at anything is through obedience to authority.’
    • ‘The evidence suggests to many that obedience to a complex truth suffered from a sense of urgency that made attention harder.’
    • ‘It seems that there's a terrible mindset at work here, one which puts obedience to authority beyond all other concerns.’
    • ‘When it came to a choice between believing and living Catholic faith and morals versus doing as she pleased, she went with obedience to Catholic faith and morals.’
    • ‘He was fascinated by behavioural patterns and society's obedience to authority and New Yorkers were doubtless delighted when his research revealed them to be so obliging.’
    • ‘But his blind obedience to duty and authority leads to a moral failure to rebel against Ahab, and because duty wins, he dooms both himself and the ship to its fate.’
    • ‘Particularly significant is the power of certain types of organization to condition the behaviour of their members, especially in habituating them to obedience to authority.’
    • ‘In the past, our conduct was dictated by one primal theme: obedience to parents, sexual ‘purity,’ and high morals.’
    • ‘Both identity and habits of uniformity offer benefits to a state or other power-wielding organisation, in terms of popular solidarity with it and obedience to it, respectively.’
    • ‘He stayed right where he was, in perfect obedience to his master's word.’
    • ‘That is where Milgram was to conduct his classic and controversial experiments on blind obedience to authority.’
    compliance, acquiescence, tractability, tractableness, amenability
    dutifulness, deference, duty, respect, respectfulness, observance of the law, observance of the rules, discipline, biddableness, duteousness
    malleability, pliability, conformity, conformance, conformability, submissiveness, submission, docility, tameness, meekness, passivity, passiveness, subservience, obsequiousness, servility
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Observance of a monastic rule.
      ‘vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience’
      • ‘His Latin version taught them how to live as monks in poverty, chastity, and obedience, while French additions dealt with military organization and tactics.’
      • ‘The rules require a withdrawal from secular attachments, complete obedience to an elected abbot, and poverty.’
      • ‘The Bishop of Middlesborough received and consecrated her as a hermit in 1994 and she took her vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.’
      • ‘It seems that almost everything is provided as far as I am faithful to the vows of chastity, obedience and poverty.’
      • ‘He was the first archbishop to insist on receiving written professions of obedience from the bishops whom he consecrated.’
      • ‘Were poverty, chastity and obedience a drama for you?’
      • ‘It was this witness of life which gave me the courage to come here at the age of twenty-three, and finally to take Solemn Vows of chastity, poverty and obedience a few months ago.’
      • ‘Sister John had gone through the relatively easy motions of obedience to her order.’
      • ‘Another group of monasteries grew up around friars who although taking the triple vow of poverty, chastity, and obedience were mendicants who moved about the country using any house of their own order as a base.’
      • ‘Br Dennis Murphy has just completed his novice year at the Dominicans and took his first vows of poverty, chastity and obedience this Wednesday.’
      • ‘It is out of the Benedictine, or monastic, tradition of obedience that I formed my decision.’
      • ‘The ‘Black Canons’ followed a strict religious life of poverty, chastity, obedience and prayer.’
      • ‘They took vows of chastity and poverty, and if part of a monastic community, obedience to the abbot.’
      • ‘Among the three religious vows, obedience is considered a spiritual way of listening to an inner voice in the stead of God's will.’
      • ‘The Templars took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and were given headquarters near the ruins of the Temple of Solomon.’
      • ‘It was said that as long as a monk upheld the three oaths of chastity, obedience, and poverty, his soul was promised Reprieve.’
      • ‘But even monastic women, after taking the vows of chastity, obedience and poverty, could not he cleansed of the stigma of Eve.’
      • ‘The Transalpine Redemptorists aim to live a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience, just as Celtic monks did on the same spot 1000 years ago.’
      • ‘She would walk away from an organised life of obedience and ritual prayer, to one of personal freedom and an open-ended spirituality.’
      • ‘I have an Episcopalian Franciscan friend, a monk who has become a priest, and who took the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.’


  • in obedience to

    • In accordance with.

      ‘he was acting in obedience to his conscience’
      • ‘Once, in obedience to a voice he heard and interpreted as the voice of God, Savonarola preached one of his most terrifying sermons.’
      • ‘He develops his slumbering powers and compels them to act in obedience to his sway.’
      • ‘If the nation is occupied by such forces, then political violence is not criminal, but an act of liberation in obedience to a higher law.’
      • ‘Clement answered that the courts and the country must simply have confidence that the executive, in obedience to its treaty obligations, would never do such a thing.’
      • ‘Australia assumes a comprehensive jurisdiction over its own ships in obedience to, or at least in conformity with, the general body of international law, which is codified in that Convention.’
      • ‘Your Honour, in obedience to requests made to me informally by the Registrar, I invite your Honour to certify for counsel.’
      • ‘‘This is a significant step forward and continues a process which could well change the face of English Christianity - which would be in obedience to God's gift and calling,’ he said.’
      • ‘God expected human beings to live in obedience to God's commands, give God due honor, and fill up those places in God's kingdom that had been left vacant by the fallen angels.’
      • ‘I have argued that Anselm understood God as having created an ordered relationship of beauty and harmony in which human beings lived freely in obedience to God.’
      • ‘He had spent years in obedience to his god, showing infallible fidelity and sincere enthusiasm for his religion, while Narayon had offered empty lipservice only as she was required.’


Middle English: via Old French from Latin oboedientia, from the verb oboedire (see obey).