Definition of obey in English:



[with object]
  • 1Submit to the authority of (someone) or comply with (a law)

    ‘I always obey my father’
    • ‘Everyone around Alan always obeyed Jason and Alan himself was no exception to the rule.’
    • ‘He was meant for royalty and people always obeyed him.’
    • ‘Keziah didn't know how much authority he had, but found herself obeying him anyway.’
    • ‘In this matter of seizing a child as you put it, which is against our laws, we cannot obey you.’
    • ‘He knew that his people would always obey him, but no one ever visited him just to talk.’
    • ‘My kids will one day set up their own household and I hope they will always love me, but they are certainly not going to always obey me.’
    • ‘He learned the way of holiness by obeying his Father.’
    • ‘Though Helge obeyed his father and joined the business, he spent every spare moment studying art, travelling constantly.’
    • ‘People obeyed him because they were afraid of him; they feared him because he was a murderous thug, surrounded by an entourage of murderous thugs.’
    • ‘The subjects must obey the emperor, and sons must obey their father.’
    • ‘But my fear of my father forced me to obey him and I cautiously made my way to the parlor.’
    • ‘You are protected by me and my power like every other vampire who follows and obeys me.’
    • ‘They are no longer puritanical and oriented to obeying an authoritarian God.’
    • ‘Dutifully, Eaton obeyed his mother and followed her, but he could not help but look behind him.’
    • ‘‘No, you better go too,’ we obeyed him and followed the other vampires into the lounge.’
    • ‘I immediately chased after her, obeying her as I always did.’
    • ‘The intelligence chief agreed to obey his political masters, and the fell deed was done.’
    • ‘They are taught to be polite, obey their parents, and defer to authority.’
    • ‘A woman used to be required to obey her father before marriage, her husband during married life, and her sons in widowhood.’
    • ‘Jace always obeyed his mother, and respected her to the utmost.’
    do what someone says, accept orders from, take orders from, carry follow the orders of, carry out the orders of, be dutiful to, heed
    comply with, adhere to, observe, abide by, act in accordance with, conform to, respect, acquiesce in, consent to, agree to, follow, accept, keep to, stick to
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Carry out (a command or instruction)
      ‘the officer was convicted for refusing to obey orders’
      no object ‘when the order was repeated, he refused to obey’
      • ‘Men, women and children are tear-gassed and sprayed with capisicum spray when they refuse to obey orders.’
      • ‘The result was that men all wore plaited queues, but the women refused to obey the order, and continued to have their feet bound.’
      • ‘These officials should be instructed that they have the right and duty to refuse to obey any order to participate in torture.’
      • ‘The officer refused to obey the guard's instructions and continued on his merry way.’
      • ‘Some of the men refused to obey an instruction from a police officer to turn back from the pits, and were arrested.’
      • ‘And on the need for contempt powers, he recounted how officials at times refused to obey the orders.’
      • ‘Sometimes, the stolen pets are not controllable or refuse to obey the commands of the thieves, leading to a round of beatings.’
      • ‘I find that the father was justified in feeling that the mother was refusing to obey court orders, with impunity.’
      • ‘You must obey the instructions contained in this order.’
      • ‘The military commanders refused to obey their orders, in their minds for good and sufficient reasons.’
      • ‘The soldiers obeyed his command because Rexil had ordered them to.’
      • ‘One constable slapped a Bengali photographer who refused to obey his orders on the first day of the Rawalpindi Test.’
      • ‘They can only eat at set times, must carry ID cards, obey all staff instructions and are only allowed restricted visits.’
      • ‘Harrisburg police say the pastors refused to obey their orders to stay more than 50 feet from the park.’
      • ‘Local military commanders, however, refused to obey Sharif's order that the plane be prevented from landing.’
      • ‘Bin workers refused to obey the order, saying they did not want to be dragged into the dispute by facilitating the arrest of protesters.’
      • ‘The most likely explanation is that the militias' leadership is ordering this restraint, obeying the instructions of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.’
      • ‘By issuing the order, the Ministry of Defence can argue that the soldier endangered himself by refusing to obey the command.’
      • ‘Captain Harper shouted out orders to his crew, who rushed to obey his commands.’
      • ‘If the Russian commanders had obeyed orders and withdrawn in good time Russian dignity would have been preserved.’
      carry out, perform, act on, execute, discharge, put into effect, implement, fulfil, meet
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Behave in accordance with (a general principle, natural law, etc.)
      ‘the universe was complex but it obeyed certain rules’
      • ‘This field obeys the expected equations of motion for an electromagnetic vector potential in four spacetime dimensions.’
      • ‘Bellaria's death obeys the principle brought out in Ovid, that the fulfillment of the wish to know the object of desire only circumvents the logic of desire and destroys the object itself.’
      • ‘A love story between Adele and Rannulph could have obeyed cinematic formulas, but it doesn't.’
      • ‘One need only consider Black Holes to see how Existence obeys rules which are difficult for our minds to accept.’
      • ‘He said obedience brought about prosperity to any body that vowed to look to obeying God's principles.’
      • ‘The distribution of probability amplitudes obeys wave-like equations, the amplitude changing in space-time like a wave does.’
      • ‘Well, that is until I am lynched by my fellow passengers for not obeying the unwritten rules of travel on the London Underground.’
      • ‘They also proceeded to explore the reasons why gases do not always behave ideally and obey this equation.’
      • ‘These two characteristics appear to be stable under many growth conditions and their inheritance obeys the rules of normal Mendelian genetics.’
      • ‘So the Planck length arises naturally when we ask what is the minimal size object we can make which doesn't collapse into a black hole and which obeys the uncertainty principle.’
      • ‘Both generators obey the first ground rule of satire: meticulous observation.’
      • ‘According to them citizens must live and obey the governing rules of their society, but only contractually.’
      • ‘The melancholic's experience is very different, partly because the loss being grieved rarely obeys the reality principle.’
      • ‘I want to strictly obey the principle that any difference theoretically impossible to detect is no difference at all.’
      • ‘The most satisfying examples of it occur when the nonsense operates according to the rules of an anarchic universe, and obeys logic within this context.’
      • ‘It can have that appearance only if it appears to obey certain principles.’
      • ‘No matter that we didn't obey the golden rules - we were adults who could look after ourselves.’
      • ‘Though sympathetic toward General Tang, Li said he still felt compelled to criticize General Tang for not obeying the moral principles of the military to never reprove superior officers.’
      • ‘Sure web space is not free space, but you'd think a website especially devoted to dissenting opinions would tend to obey its own principles.’
      • ‘The world looked on, deaf to pleas to intervene, and even when the president last week removed freedom of the press, the Commonwealth only uttered pious warnings about obeying democratic principles.’


Middle English: from Old French obeir, from Latin oboedire, from ob- ‘in the direction of’ + audire ‘hear’.