25/9/17 The Meaning of Abide
“Abide” is a term that can be confusing for legal English learners.
Today we’ll explain what it means and how it is used.
Abide may mean several different things:
- to stay (the right of entering and abiding in any state in the Union)
- to tolerate, withstand (we won’t abide that type of behavior)
- to obey [construed with by] (abide by the law)
- to await (our decision must abide the outcome of the general election), or
- to perform or execute [in reference to orders or judgments] (as a trial judge, I must abide the judgment of the circuit court)
The last is the strictly legal meaning.
Abide by is a phrasal verb meaning “to acquiesce in or conform to.” In this sense, you should not omit the preposition by. Omitting the by is awkward at best, unidiomatic at worst.
Example: A defendant must abide by the rules of evidence and procedure.