c. 1300, obeien, "carry out the commands of (someone); submit to (a command, rule, etc.); be ruled by," from Old French obeir "obey, be obedient, do one's duty" (12c.), from Latin obedire, oboedire "obey, be subject, serve; pay attention to, give ear," literally "listen to," from ob "to" (see ob-) + audire "listen, hear" (from PIE root *au- "to perceive"). Same sense development is in hiersumnian, the Old English word for the same thing. Related: Obeyed; obeying.