What Does Abide By Mean?

Abide By Meaning

Definition: To go along with something, to follow a rule, to put up with something.

There are many different ways to use the phrase to abide by. All of the meanings have to do with continuing on in a certain way. Whenever you abide by something, you are going along with things in their present state. You are not trying to change things or act radically, even if you disagree.

To abide by something may involve waiting for something to happen. It may also involve doing something without questioning it, such as when you follow, or abide by, rules. Abiding may also mean to tolerate something unpleasant or something with which you disagree.

Origin of To Abide By Something

meaning of abidedThe Old English word abidan, from which the word abide comes, means to wait or remain. Furthermore, bidan means to bide time or to dwell. These words have been used since before the 1200s.

Later, in the 1300s, the word abide was first used. Originally, it was used without the word by as a part of its phrase, but now people will rarely use “abide” on its own.

Nowadays, it is more common to say abide by. For example, while it was once common to say, “we abide him,” it would now be more common to say, “we abide by what he says to do.”

Examples of To Abide By Something

Meaning of abide byIn addition to abiding by the rules of something, one may abide by things that people say.

For example, to abide by a judge’s ruling is to follow a judge’s orders. To abide by a friend’s wishes is to do what that friend wants to do.

Another common use is to say I can’t abide by something. For example, saying “I can’t abide by a messy kitchen” shows that you want the kitchen to be neat.

More Examples

  • In New York last fall, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed one of the nation’s most restrictive laws penalizing Airbnb hosts who do not abide by limits on how frequently they can rent out their properties. – LA Times
  • Four years after Mayor Annise Parker’s administration tightened Houston’s lobbying rules and pledged to enforce them, not a single person or firm has been cited despite records showing that many lobbyists have failed to abide by the regulations. – Houston Chronicle


To abide by something is to act in accordance with the rules, instructions, or wishes set forth.