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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 1983 (DOST Vol. V).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Obey, v. Also: obeye, obay, obbaye, obei-, obe(e)-; abey, -ay. [ME. obeie(n (c 1290), ME. and e.m.E. obey(e, F. obéir: cf. Obeis.]

1. To submit to the rule or authority of, to give obedience to over a more or less indefinite period (a person, his rule or commands, or a principle). a. intr. const. to, till or unto. b. tr. c. passive.a. (1) a1400 Leg. S. vii. 171.
We obey mon to thé ay
1425 Reg. Great S. 11/1.
That to the said Sir Wilyeam and George … yhe obey and intende as it afferis
1456 Hay I. 107/23.
All the provincis … quhilkis obeyis nocht to the Emperour but properly to the Pape
Ib. 210/34.
Gif a bataill war sett, and thare war mony … princis governand, bot gif thai obey all till a hede [etc.]
1468 Lindores A. 163.
He wuld [sic in pr.] not obey to balȝe, no serjands nadyr
a1500 Henr. Fab. 794 (H).
Obay vnto ȝour God
1490 Irland Mir. MS. fol. 345.
Thai and thar forbearis has obeyit to his forbearis and progenitouris
1513 Doug. xiii. ii. 94.
To my fader in law, the kyng Latyn, Obeis [Ruddim. obeyis] all and with reuerens inclyn
1517 Reg. Privy S. I. 450/1.
To rais and gaddir all … the tenentis quhilkis obeyt to him of befor
1533 Bell. Livy I. 205/29.
Nochttheles thai obeyit weill eftir to thare capitanis the tyme of batall
1535 Stewart 52484. a1585 Maitland Maitl. Q. vii. 33. ?1549 Monro W. Isles (Sibbald) ii.
[Rum] obeyis to McGillane of Doward instantlie
(2) 1375 Barb. xvi. 312 (E).
The Irsche kingis … wndretuk … For till obey to the bidding Off Schyr Eduuard
c1490 Irland Asl. MS. I. 12/3.
Ellis he obeys nocht to the law and commandement of God and haly kirk
Id. Mir. I. 22/12.
Ass the haly angellis obeyis to thi will in hevin aboue
Ib. 164/30. a1500 Bk. Chess 238.
Euery man suld to his king attend And to his precept obeye
1562-3 Winȝet II. 76/1.
To quhois iugement obeyng without irking
(3) c1490 Irland Asl. MS. I. 38/8.
And a persone fast nocht he nurisis wantonly his flesche and it obeyis nother to ressoun na ȝit [etc.]
Id. Mir. I. 64/9.
The will of man obeit to ressoune
b. (1) ?1438 Alex. ii. 2954.
Sone, I thé pray For to obey all that thow may Alexander the nobill king
c1450-2 Howlat 197. 1456 Hay II. 63/25. c1475 Wall. vi. 793.
Fra Gamlis peth the land obeyt him haill Til Vr wattir
a1500 Henr. III. 126/24.
In patience baith he & he Obeid and thankit God of all
1492 Myll Spect. 275/20.
That ȝe obeye nocht nore be nocht vnder the gouernans of wemen
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Flyt. 233. 1535 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 150.
That all the … men … obey and decor the lordis of Bonaccord
1560 St. A. Kirk S. 37.
I treatet, obeyed and served the said Williame
a1578 Pitsc. II. 89/29. Ib. 214/6.(2) 1492 Myll Spect. 273/24.
The blissit Lord our saluiour Jhesus … quhois precepis we suld obey
a1500 Seven S. 572.
All man obeys thi senȝeory
a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 266.
Scottis lordis could nocht obey Inglis lawis
1513 Doug. xiii. x. 26.
1554 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 200.
1649 Grant Chart. 242. 1670 Ure Rutherglen 44.
They shall be lyable … contra obeeing the premiss in ane fyne
(b) 1524 Carnwath Baron Ct. (ed.) 15.
Thai sall abyd & abay the decret … & sentens
1621 Melrose P. I. 415.
Yf they wold abey and confirme the actes already made
c. c1515 Asl. MS. I. 321/22.
Crist discending to hell was obeyit with feyndis withoutin interrupcoun
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 4370.
Quhat euir thare ministeris commandis Most be obeyit
a1578 Pitsc. II. 290/29.
Generall luvetennant of all Scotland quhair the King vas obeyit

2. a. tr. To do the bidding of, comply with a command or request of (a person). 1513 Doug. iii. iii. 76, 78.
Lat ws obey Phebus and wend awa As we bene monyst; follow our chance, but pleys; Thus said he and we glaid al hym obeys
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. ci. 47.
Quha wald haue for ane missiue bill Obeyit the authorite And [etc.]
1562-3 Winȝet I. 127/4.
1639 Bk. Pasquils (1827) ii. 92.
The seas obayed Christ Jesus

b. To comply with, perform (a command). tr., and intr. const. to.See Obtemper v. for several further examples.(1) 1491 Acta Aud. 154/1.
Quhy he will nocht fulfill & obey to the said decrett arbitrale
1500 Acta Conc. II. 450. 1526–7 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 256.(2) 1498 Acta Conc. II. 251.
Because he obeyit nocht the sadis umquhile our soverane lordis faderis letters
1513 Doug. ii. xi. 43.
For this myracle I wil obey and grantis onto ȝour will
1533 Dunferm. Reg. Ct. 95.
1533 Boece viii. xiii. 280 b.
He obeyit this hailsum counsell
1588 Prot. Bk. J. Inglis 8 Sept.
That he haid all rady obayit the said charge

c. passive.Freq. said in respect of due payments or admissions of persons to rights, and const. of the due payment.(1) 1456 Hay I. 182/27.
Wenand it [a safe-conduct] wald be obeyde
Ib. 247/14.
He suld nocht be obeyit in that
Ib. 130/21. 1515 Douglas Corr. 68.
And be nocht hyr lettyris obeyt in the curt of Roume
1670 Meikle Old Session Bk. 198.
The removing and putting bak of the loft is obeied an done
(2) 1482–3 Acta Conc. II. cii.
That letters be writin to the schireffis quhar the said landis liis to mak hir be obeit
1529 Cart. S. Nich. Aberd. II. 361.
That Sanct Nicholas mett … ought to be obeit siclik in tymis cuming
(3) 1519 Reg. Privy S. I. 478/1.
That thai mak the said James and his assignais ansuerit and obeit of the said eschete gudis
1544–5 Corr. M. Lorraine 130.
As yit I am nocht obeyit of my hwis of Darnway nor yit of your grecis hwsis of Ros … quhilk causis me to be ewill obeyit of my hwsbandis restis awcht to your grece and wderis
1546 Reg. Privy C. I. 51.
[To] caus the said … officeris and serjandis be anserit, obeyit and payit of the Lames dett
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 70.

3. absol. To obey, conform, submit. 1456 Hay I. 65/27. Ib. 214/2.
All the contreis … that war rebellouris he put thame sa law that thame behovit obey
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Flyt. 183.
Obey, theif baird
Id. Tua Mar. W. 309.
I gert the buthman obey
1512 Reg. Privy S. I. 366/2.
That the said schireffis … charge the tenentis … to answer and obey in the thankfull paying of the said malez
1550 Ib. IV. 120/2.
1562-3 Winȝet II. 9/5.
That al superiour poueris suld godly reul, and inferiouris humelie obey
1568 Anderson Collect. Mary IV. ii. 89.
Becaus ane gryet part of the nobilitie … never obeyt, voitit nor subscryved with them
1570 Mill Mediæv. Plays 172.
In safar as he vald nocht obbaye and accept on hym the office of Robert Huyd
1571 Bann. Memor. 166.
Sho … being borne to impyre … and swa not accustomed to obey

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"Obey v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 May 2024 <>



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