From Middle English obeyen, from Anglo-Norman obeir, obeier et al., Old French obeir, from Latin oboediō (also obēdiō (“to listen to, harken, usually in extended sense, obey, be subject to, serve”)), from ob- (“before, near”) + audiō (“to hear”). Compare audient. In Latin, ob + audire would have been expected to become Classical Latin *obūdiō (compare in + claudō becoming inclūdō), but it has been theorized that the usual law court associations of the word for obeying encouraged a false archaism from ū to oe, to oboediō (compare Old Latin oinos → Classical Latin ūnus).
obey (third-person singular simple present obeys, present participle obeying, simple past and past participle obeyed)
- (transitive) To do as ordered by (a person, institution etc), to act according to the bidding of.
- (intransitive) To do as one is told.
- (obsolete, intransitive) To be obedient, compliant (to a given law, restriction etc.).