follow (v.)

Middle English folwen, from Old English folgian, fylgian, fylgan "to accompany (especially as a disciple), move in the same direction as; follow after, pursue, move behind in the same direction," also "obey (a rule or law), conform to, act in accordance with; apply oneself to (a practice, trade, or calling)," from Proto-Germanic *fulgojanan (source also of Old Saxon folgon, Old Frisian folgia, Middle Dutch volghen, Dutch volgen, Old High German folgen, German folgen, Old Norse fylgja "to follow"). Probably originally a compound, *full-gan, with a sense of "full-going," the sense then shifting to "serve, go with as an attendant" (compare fulfill). Related: Followed; following.

Sense of "accept as leader or guide, obey or be subservient to" was in late Old English. Meaning "come after in time" is from c. 1200; meaning "to result from" (as effect from cause) is from c. 1200. Meaning "to keep up with mentally, comprehend" is from 1690s. Intransitive sense "come or go behind" is from mid-13c. To follow one's nose "go straight on" first attested 1590s. "The full phrase is, 'Follow your nose, and you are sure to go straight.' " [Farmer]. The children's game follow my leader is attested by that name from 1812 (as follow the leader by 1896).

updated on July 27, 2018

Definitions of follow from WordNet

follow (v.)
to travel behind, go after, come after;
The ducklings followed their mother around the pond
Please follow the guide through the museum
follow (v.)
be later in time;
Tuesday always follows Monday
Synonyms: postdate
follow (v.)
come as a logical consequence; follow logically;
It follows that your assertion is false
Synonyms: fall out
follow (v.)
travel along a certain course;
follow the road
follow the trail
Synonyms: travel along
follow (v.)
act in accordance with someone's rules, commands, or wishes;
Synonyms: comply / abide by
follow (v.)
come after in time, as a result;
A terrible tsunami followed the earthquake
Synonyms: come after
follow (v.)
behave in accordance or in agreement with;
Synonyms: conform to
follow (v.)
be next;
Mary plays best, with John and Sue following
follow (v.)
choose and follow; as of theories, ideas, policies, strategies or plans;
She followed the feminist movement
Synonyms: adopt / espouse
follow (v.)
to bring something about at a later time than;
He followed his lecture with a question and answer period
She followed dinner with a brandy
follow (v.)
imitate in behavior; take as a model;
Teenagers follow their friends in everything
Synonyms: take after
follow (v.)
follow, discover, or ascertain the course of development of something;
We must follow closely the economic development is Cuba
Synonyms: trace
follow (v.)
follow with the eyes or the mind;
She followed the men with the binoculars
Synonyms: watch / observe / watch over / keep an eye on
follow (v.)
be the successor (of);
Carter followed Ford
Synonyms: succeed / come after
follow (v.)
perform an accompaniment to;
The orchestra could barely follow the frequent pitch changes of the soprano
Synonyms: play along / accompany
follow (v.)
keep informed;
Synonyms: keep up / keep abreast
follow (v.)
to be the product or result;
Synonyms: come
follow (v.)
accept and follow the leadership or command or guidance of;
Let's follow our great helmsman!
She followed a guru for years
follow (v.)
adhere to or practice;
These people still follow the laws of their ancient religion
follow (v.)
work in a specific place, with a specific subject, or in a specific function;
Synonyms: be
follow (v.)
keep under surveillance;
The police had been following him for weeks but they could not prove his involvement in the bombing
Synonyms: surveil / survey
follow (v.)
follow in or as if in pursuit;
Her bad deed followed her and haunted her dreams all her life
Synonyms: pursue
follow (v.)
grasp the meaning;
When he lectures, I cannot follow
Can you follow her argument?
follow (v.)
keep to;
Synonyms: stick to / stick with
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.