late 14c., obeisaunce, "act or fact of obeying, submissiveness, quality of being compliant or dutiful; respectful submission, homage," from Old French obeissance "obedience, service, feudal duty" (13c.), from obeissant, present participle of obeir "to obey," from Latin oboedire "to obey" (see obey). The sense in English altered late 14c. to "bending or prostration of the body as a gesture of submission or respect, a bow or curtsy; deferential deportment; an act of reverence or deference" by influence of abase. Related: Obeisant.
updated on July 24, 2019