Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Abide


The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is abide. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Abide is often used in negative constructions, such as “can’t abide,” to say that someone cannot tolerate or accept something. Abide can also mean “to accept without objection” and “to remain or continue.”

// I just can’t abide such blatant dishonesty.

// Residents of the dorm agree to abide by the dorm’s rules.

ABIDE in Context

“When it comes to the quality of recording, mixing and mastering, the industry standard is quite flexible. ‘Mostly it comes down to taste and finding someone with the skill set to achieve a desired outcome,’ says Adam McDaniel, co-owner of Drop of Sun Studios in West Asheville. … ‘But the subjective qualities of tone and fidelity are dictated by the songs and the artists’ preference. Personally, I can’t abide an attitude of ‘that’s good enough.’ If something can be better, then let’s go further.’” — Edwin Arnaudin, Mountain Xpress (Asheville, North Carolina), 10 Aug. 2022

Did You Know?

Abide has abided in the English language since before the 12th century, picking up along the way several meanings and inflections that are now rare or no longer in use. For instance, one of abide’s former meanings was “to stop” and its former past participle was abidden (whereas we now use abided or abode). Today, abide often turns up in the phrase “can’t abide” to say that someone cannot tolerate or accept something. The expression abide by, which means “to accept and be guided by (something),” is also common. Related terms include abiding, meaning “continuing for a long time” or “not changing” (as in “an abiding friendship”), abidance (“continuance” or “the act or process of doing what you have been asked or ordered to do”), and abode (“the place where someone lives”).

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