v. fol·lowed, fol·low·ing, fol·lows
a. To come or go after; proceed behind: Follow the usher to your seat.
b. To go after in pursuit: would follow his enemy to the ends of the earth.
c. To keep under surveillance: The agent followed the suspect around town.
a. To move along the course of; take: We followed the path.
b. To move in the direction of; be guided by: followed the sun westward; followed the signs to the zoo.
c. To lie in the same path as: The road follows the old trading route.
d. To be parallel to: The road follows the river.
3. To accept the guidance, command, or leadership of: follow a spiritual master; rebels who refused to follow their leader.
4. To adhere to; practice: followed family traditions.
5. To take as a model or precedent; imitate: followed my example and resigned.
a. To act in agreement or compliance with; obey: follow the rules; follow one's instincts.
b. To keep to or stick to: followed the recipe; follow a diet.
7. To engage in (a trade or occupation); work at.
8. To come after in order, time, or position: Night follows day.
9. To bring something about at a later time than or as a consequence of: She followed her lecture with a question-and-answer period. The band followed its hit album with a tour.
10. To occur or be evident as a consequence of: Your conclusion does not follow your premise.
a. To watch or observe closely: followed the bird through binoculars.
b. To be attentive to; pay close heed to: too sleepy to follow the sermon.
c. To keep oneself informed of the course, progress, or fortunes of: follow the stock market; followed the local teams.
12. To grasp the meaning or logic of; understand: Do you follow my argument?
1. To come, move, or take place after another person or thing in order or time.
2. To occur or be evident as a consequence; result: If you ignore your diet, trouble will follow.
3. To grasp the meaning or reasoning of something; understand.
Games A billiards shot in which the cue ball is struck above center so that it follows the path of the object ball after impact.
To move or proceed in unison or in accord with an example: followed along with the song.
1. Sports To carry a stroke to natural completion after hitting or releasing a ball or other object.
2. To carry an act, project, or intention to completion; pursue fully: followed through on her promise to fix the oven.
To increase the effectiveness or enhance the success of by further action: followed up her interview with an email.
As will be stated next. Used to introduce a specified enumeration, explanation, or command.
follow (one's) nose
1. To move straight ahead or in a direct path.
2. Informal To be guided by instinct: had no formal training but became a success by following his nose.
1. Games To play a card of the same suit as the one led.
2. To do as another has done; follow an example.
[Middle English folowen, from Old English folgian.]
Synonyms: follow, succeed, ensue, result
These verbs mean to come after something or someone. Follow, the most general, refers to people or things that come after another in time or order or as a consequence or result: You go first, and we'll follow. He disregarded doctor's orders, and a relapse soon followed. To succeed is to come next after another, especially in planned order determined by considerations such as rank, inheritance, or election: The heir apparent succeeded to the throne. Ensue and result are used only of events or conditions that follow another in time. Ensue usually applies to what is a consequence: After the government was toppled, chaos ensued. Result implies that what follows is caused by what has preceded: Driving over the speed limit can result in a fine.
Usage Note: As follows (not as follow) is the established form of the idiom regardless of whether the noun that precedes it is singular or plural: The regulations are as follows.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.