Definition of follow in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈfälō/


[with object]
1Go or come after (a person or thing proceeding ahead); move or travel behind: she went back into the house, and Ben followed her [no object]: he was following behind in his car
More example sentences
  • The noise I do not leave behind; the clanging follows me.
  • Carly follows shortly behind and Adam follows her, making sure she doesn't run into anything.
  • I groaned, but followed him and looked behind me to find everyone else coming too.
come behind, come after, go behind, go after, walk behind
accompany, go along with, go around with, travel with, escort, attend, trail around with, string along with
informal tag along with
1.1Go after (someone) in order to observe or monitor: the KGB man followed her everywhere
More example sentences
  • He was followed some distance and observed by one officer to weave between the lines of the payment.
  • And I expect you to take appropriate precautions that we are not followed or observed.
  • It was the first time Scots had seen a man in shorts and I was followed everywhere by an angry mob with pitch forks and burning torches.
shadow, trail, stalk, track, dog, hound
informal tail
1.2 archaic Strive after; aim at: I follow fame
1.3Go along (a route or path).
Example sentences
  • All buses will have to follow diversion routes along Bow Lane, Ringway and Corporation Street on Saturday afternoons.
  • Cross the stile in the wall and follow the path running along the north side of Upper Ogden reservoir.
  • Turn left at the top of the hill and follow the path along the ridge to Darwen Tower.
1.4(Of a route or path) go in the same direction as or parallel to (another): the road follows a hidden sweetwater brook
More example sentences
  • Their route followed the earlier tracks worn by the explorer Major Mitchell.
  • Most of the way the route follows the Buller River and in some places the road is narrow and winding.
  • The route follows well waymarked paths from Hawkshead across low pastures to the charming settlement of Colthouse.
2Come after in time or order: the six years that followed his restoration [no object]: the rates are as follows
More example sentences
  • The main gripes of the anti-Howard/anti-Hanson forces are as follows, not in order of preference.
  • The full top ten, in no particular order, is as follows.
  • The eight finalists in alphabetical order are as follows.
2.1Happen after (something else) as a consequence: raucous laughter followed the ribald remark [no object]: retribution soon followed
More example sentences
  • From Mexico, the spread of viticulture followed swiftly on the heels of Spanish conquests.
  • A few minutes of stunned silence followed in the wake of that statement.
  • A long silence followed which was finally broken by Scully.
result from, arise from, be a consequence of, be caused by, be brought about by, be a result of, come after, develop from, ensue from, emanate from, issue from, proceed from, spring from, flow from, originate from, stem from
2.2 [no object] Be a logical consequence: it thus follows from this equation that the value must be negative
More example sentences
  • It follows from Spinoza's theory that God is not distinct from the world but identical with it.
  • How, exactly, does the terminology usually regarded by logicians as logical work in making it the case that one sentence follows from others?
  • It follows from Kant's view that we know a priori that non-Euclidean geometry cannot be applied in physics.
2.3 [with object] (Of a person) do something after (something else): he follows his surprise hit movie with a paranoid thriller
More example sentences
  • He follows with an account of the place of corn in the Atlantic slave trade.
  • Stojakovic followed with his trade demand after the Kings let go of his good friend Vlade Divac.
2.4 (often be followed by) Have (a dish or course) after another or others in a meal: turkey was followed by dessert
More example sentences
  • What if I want to go out for a drink, followed by a nice meal and be in a comfortable, smoke-free environment?
  • Cups of cappuccino concluded the meal, followed by a plate of anise and bacon brittle.
  • On arrival, they had a wine reception, followed by a scrumptious meal of Christmas fare.
3Act according to (an instruction or precept): he has difficulty in following written instructions
More example sentences
  • The instruction was followed immediately as they stepped out in unison before moving one step to the right.
  • Edgar immediately followed instruction and we walked passed him.
  • I was in a hurry to do this and just blindly followed the instructions.
obey, comply with, conform to, adhere to, stick to, keep to, hew to, act in accordance with, abide by, observe, heed, pay attention to
3.1Conform to: the film faithfully follows Shakespeare’s plot
More example sentences
  • Shadow Skill slavishly follows the rules of the fighting anime genre as if it expects a test later.
  • He said the pilot's decision on silence followed standard procedure and that the government supported it.
  • Moreover, the starting and ending points of these cycles follow a pattern related to seasons on Earth.
3.2Act according to the lead or example of (someone): he follows Aristotle in believing this
More example sentences
  • Tiger Woods follows Phil Mickelson's example by making a birdie at the 13th, to restore a three-shot lead.
  • Ainslie followed Shirley Robertson's lead in claiming Britain's second sailing gold of the Games.
  • The Haftorah teaches that Torah will enlighten those who follow King Chiram's example.
imitate, copy, mimic, ape, reproduce, mirror, echo;
emulate, take as a pattern, take as an example, take as a model, adopt the style of, model oneself on, take a leaf out of someone's book
3.3Treat as a teacher or guide: those who seek to follow Jesus Christ
More example sentences
  • We seek to follow Jesus, acknowledging that we are all learners and flawed.
  • I reasoned with myself that we had tried to follow God, we had observed the Talmud.
  • Now the party of the circumcision would refer to Christians or people who follow Jesus who practice circumcision.
4Pay close attention to (something): I’ve been following this discussion closely
More example sentences
  • If I had been in Bradford I would have followed this closely through your columns.
  • I think the Vatican is going to be following closely what this document says.
4.1Keep track of; trace the movement or direction of: she followed his gaze, peering into the gloom
More example sentences
  • Smooth pursuit eye movements are used to follow a moving target that one is looking at directly.
  • You almost expect the eye of a painting to follow your every movement.
  • Her eyes followed his every movement as he crossed over her legs, crawling over to his side of the bed.
4.2Maintain awareness of the current state or progress of (events in a particular sphere or account): young Italians follow football
More example sentences
  • He's lived in that country, knows some of the participants in the current crisis, and follows events there closely.
  • Mel follows current affairs rather more closely than me.
  • So we will continue to follow that live event that's happening right now.
be a fan of, be a supporter of, support, be a follower of, be an admirer of, be a devotee of, be devoted to
4.3(Of a person or account) be concerned with the development of (something): the book follows the life and career of Henry Clay
More example sentences
  • And the second book follows Bourdain as he criss-crosses the world sampling local delicacies from the sublime to the bizarre.
  • This book basically follows a Chicken as he wanders through the farm.
  • The programme follows American-born Des as he visits some of the worst trouble-spots in Ireland.
4.4Track (a person, group, or organization) by subscribing to their account on a social media website or application: if you’ve been following me on Facebook recently you may have seen a bunch of different posts about surgery and back trouble I don’t follow many celebrities on Twitter anymore
More example sentences
  • Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
  • I'd just gotten on Facebook to follow my daughter.
  • There's no option to become friends with the Queen on Facebook, nor follow her updates on Twitter.
4.5Understand the meaning or tendency of (a speaker or argument): I still don’t follow you
More example sentences
  • It is necessary to set out parts of this schedule if the argument is to be followed.
  • Dialect is explained so people can follow the speaker's meaning.
  • I said I'd prefer to go home and then there was some discussion I couldn't follow much of through my fog but nodded away.
understand, comprehend, apprehend, take in, grasp, fathom, appreciate, see
informal make head(s) or tail(s) of, get, figure out, savvy, wrap/get one's head around, wrap/get one's mind around, get the drift of
5Practice (a trade or profession).
5.1Undertake or carry out (a course of action or study): she followed a strict diet
More example sentences
  • These academic subjects formed the basis of the studia humanitatis, the course of study followed by most young men of the period.
  • Class stratification is also at work as those in the highest castes follow the strictest vegetarian diet.
  • Like good Hindus, langurs follow a strict vegetarian diet - give or take the occasional munch of a locust or larva.



follow in someone's footsteps (or steps)

Do as another person did before, especially in following a particular career.
Example sentences
  • Although his father was a farmer, he decided not to follow in his footsteps but to go into the Army.
  • And like you, I knew that he could easily follow in my footsteps by seeing me drinking every night.
  • Several of my friends from the recovery community followed in my footsteps and started taking classes.

follow one's nose

1Trust to one’s instincts: you are on the right track so follow your nose
More example sentences
  • Then it's a question of following your nose along the winding ridge ahead, savouring the views.
  • Sure enough, he could smell the magic in the air, and he followed his nose across the great hall and down a long series of hallways.
  • Turn right at the Romanc sign and then follow your nose.
2Move along guided by one’s sense of smell.
Example sentences
  • It wasn't like a gas leak smell, but it was a strong pungent odor, so he followed his nose to where it smelled like it was coming from.
  • Just wait for the unmistakable smell of heavy oil mingled with a teeth-clenching sweetness and follow your nose.
  • Instead, all they have to do is follow their nose - the sweet, strong smell pervades the entire gallery.
3Go straight ahead.
Example sentences
  • Turn right through a gate to enter a housing estate, and follow your nose to the main street and back to Doune Ponds.
  • When the Storm Troopers were out of sight, I followed my nose in the direction the council had started going.
  • The man took a deep breath and followed his nose to the young boy.

follow suit

(In bridge, whist, and other card games) play a card of the suit led.
Example sentences
  • When a non-trump is led, players who have a card of the suit led must either follow suit or play a trump.
  • Players must follow suit if possible - a player who cannot follow suit may discard any card.
  • You must follow suit if you can; if you cannot follow suit, any card may be played.
3.1Conform to another’s actions: Spain cut its rates by half a percent but no other country has followed suit
More example sentences
  • And the rest follows suit, if you've got the aptitude and talent for it.
  • And algae follows suit, converting sunlight to growth.
  • Thankfully, the McGuinty government in Ontario kept its promise to raise cigarette taxes; let's hope the federal government follows suit.

Phrasal verbs


follow through

(In golf, baseball, and other sports) continue one’s movement after the ball has been struck or thrown.
Example sentences
  • Wilson followed through to force the ball past his former team mate, receiving a knock in the process.
  • The goal came about after Doran had collected a sideline ball from Walsh and followed through to the back of the net.
  • All you need is a Belichick-like game plan and the courage to follow through with it.

follow something through

Continue an action or task to its conclusion.
Example sentences
  • Lamont follows this argument through to its logical conclusion.
  • Finally, we do individual sessions to follow people through a full task, to make certain it's working the way they want it to.
  • I had to follow it through to its conclusion or semi-conclusion.
complete, bring to completion, see something through;
continue with, carry on with, keep on with, keep going with, stay with
informal stick something out

follow something up

Pursue or investigate something further: I decided to follow up the letters with phone calls
More example sentences
  • My contention is they didn't follow it up or investigate any of it further.
  • Our patients are part of an ongoing investigation, and they were followed up prospectively as part of their clinical evaluation process.
  • We carry out annual inspections and there are also spot checks and any complaints are followed up.
investigate, research, look into, dig into, delve into, make inquiries into, inquire about, ask questions about, pursue, chase up
informal check out, scope out


Old English folgian, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch volgen and German folgen.

Words that rhyme with follow

Apollo, hollow, Rollo, swallow, wallow

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: fol·low

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