In English Dictionary, under 'ABIDE', it says that

  1. to wait for : await

• to abide the coming of the Lord

• abide the day of His coming

• abide one's time

Under 'AWAIT', it says that

  1. to wait for

• await summer vacation

• await trial

• await your arrival/reply

• Awaiting the favor of your prompt attention.

Can I use “abide” instead of “await”? In what situation would you use "abide" instead of "await"? Are they actually the same? Could you give me some more examples to illustrate the difference more clearly?

  • 2
    'Abide' in that sense is archaic and would never be used in modern English. We use 'abide by a rule' or 'a decision' to mean 'act in accordance with', and 'cannot abide' to mean 'cannot bear [something]. I guess you may have been looking in the Oxford English Dictionary which lists all possible past and present meanings. Oct 7, 2018 at 7:38
  • 2
    Hi @TulipFlower, welcome to ELU. Do you have a link to your English dictionary, or just the name of the book where you found the definition? It sometimes helps to know the source.
    – Pam
    Oct 7, 2018 at 8:30
  • The definitions came from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abide) And I consulted the OneLook Dictionary. (onelook.com/?w=Abide&ls=a) Oct 7, 2018 at 9:29
  • @Pam Looks like Merriam Webster. The others I have seen do not have the 'await' definition or the third MW definition which is similar to 'abide by' but without the preposition (I will abide your decision). These usages are so rare in modern English that I don't think I've ever heard or seen either of them being used.
    – BoldBen
    Oct 7, 2018 at 9:29
  • The sense you are referring to has been dead for a long time, except perhaps in the phase "bide one's time." Abode is from the same idea. A nice collection of historical usage examples here
    – Phil Sweet
    Oct 7, 2018 at 14:08

1 Answer 1


Your definition of await is correct.

Your definition of abide is incorrect. “Abide” carries the meaning of “survive”, or “endure” -

1) Accept or act in accordance with "I said I would abide by their decision"

2) Tolerate, endure "if there is one thing I cannot abide it is a lack of discipline"

So the example you give of “abide the day of the Lord” does not mean to wait for the day of the lord, but to endure his glory and justice when he arrives: “But who can abide/endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap.” - Malachi 3:2 - the context is that the people of Israel were calling on God to bring judgement on their enemies, and he is warning them that they themselves have acted corruptly.

Your definition of abide probably comes from its third meaning:

3) (of a feeling or memory) continue without fading or being lost. "at least one memory will abide" It carries the idea of living or staying with something, but again the emphasis is that something is enduring.

So a famous hymn starts “abide with me, fast falls the eventide”, which is a prayer for the Lord to stay with us through life as we look towards life’s end (poetically the “eventide”).

This line could be expressed as “stay with me...”, but “await/wait with me...” would not carry the correct meaning.

  • Where do your definitions come from? Is it oxford? It seems to have the correct order. thefreedictionary has them all and more but not in your order in any one entry.
    – Pam
    Oct 7, 2018 at 8:26
  • 1
    They came from Google’s result, but appear to come from the oxford en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/abide. They also match my experience of usage as an en_GB speaker.
    – Dan W
    Oct 7, 2018 at 8:29

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