So I learned from a dictionary that

ABIDE is when you bear something but still do it. Like you don't want to do what your employer tells you but still do.

OBEY is to follow a command.

But it looks like they are interchangeable for me. Can someone explain differences, pls.

  • 2
    Note that "abide" may simply mean "stay" or "reside with".
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 27 '18 at 21:07
  • 2
    And, in general, just because words are (in some sense) synonyms does not mean they are interchangeable.
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 27 '18 at 21:08
  • 1
    I can’t abide people smoking near me.
    – Jim
    Aug 27 '18 at 21:12
  • Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/38213/…
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 27 '18 at 21:13
  • "Abide" is a bit old-fashioned. Most familiar to me in the words of a hymn: "When darkness deepens, Lord with me abide."
    – Xanne
    Aug 27 '18 at 21:45

Is it as simple as an active or passive context? You obey active authority, you abide by passive conditions.

  • You don't "obey" conditions. You abide them, not by them. Abide there has the meaning of tolerating/enduring something unpleasant. Abide by means to comply with.
    – Wordster
    Aug 28 '18 at 0:26
  • Please use comments, not "answer" to post opinions.
    – Kris
    Aug 28 '18 at 8:38

We abide by (comply with, follow) the law, the rules, or a contract, and you can also use obey with those, except for the contract. You obey a teacher, a policeman, a coach, a parent, and so forth. We do not abide by them.

So, you can use "abide by" with things, and "obey" with things and people.

For more examples of how you can use "abide by," see here.

  • 1
    I'm going to upvote you for this, mainly because you have received two quite unjustified down-votes (such petty mindedness, and so discourteous not to explain why). However in this sense "abide" simply means to "remain" or "adhere". Hence to "abide by the law" is really just to "adhere to the law". So "abide" alone is not, in my view synonymous with "obey".
    – WS2
    Aug 28 '18 at 15:57

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