In a legal document, such as a contract or agreement between two parties (where party refers to entities or individuals), what is the exact meaning of the word abide ?

The clause in question :

I will abide by the then-current Terms of Service of <entity>, and other policies made available to me

Can abiding by a clause also imply that the individual is expected to act on or enforce the clause within the applicable domain of the contract?

  • Please show the text where the phrase appeared. Without that context a meaningful answer is unlikely. Jul 2, 2013 at 15:24
  • Abide does not "also imply that the individual is expected to act on or enforce the clause" -- that would be part of the clause, not the implication of the word abiding.
    – Kris
    Jul 3, 2013 at 5:25
  • I don't think you are going to come across any contract which compels you to force other people to comply with a similar contract that they agreed to separately. You have no idea, for instance, whether other parties might have negotiated different contracts from your own. There are, however, laws that impose a non-discretionary duty on you to report violations of some prohibition within the law. These tend to be serious crimes for which violations are hard to catch: e.g., child abuse.
    – user31341
    Jul 9, 2013 at 2:35

2 Answers 2


Abide by just means "to comply with." By agreeing to the contract, you agree to comply with the terms of the contract. (The word shares a root with other words like bidding—as in "to do one's bidding"—and forbid.)

The word that creates the obligation isn't abide, really; it's will—you agree that this is something you will do, or else you will be in violation of the contract. As to whether that includes acting on or enforcing anything, that would be spelled out by the Terms of Service.

  • So, if I were to see a violation of this TOS, I am not expected to act on it as per the agreement? Also, if I choose to act on it, I cannot reasonably use this clause to defend my action? (if things reach such a situation)
    – asheeshr
    Jul 2, 2013 at 16:27
  • 1
    Again, it depends on whether the ToS requires you to report violations that you observe others committing. If it doesn't, there's nothing in the wording of "abide by" that creates that obligation. (Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.)
    – phenry
    Jul 2, 2013 at 16:30

The questions you are asking have nothing to do with the meaning of the word "abide". As @phenry has already said, the clause you have cited merely requires you to comply with the Terms of Service (ToS) of the company in question.

It is the wording of (a) the rest of the contract containing this clause, and (b) the Terms of Service, that will determine what your obligations are regarding any violations or enforcement of both the contract itself and the ToS. If you are concerned about that, then you need to consult a lawyer.

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