Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun ob·ser·va·tion \ˌäb-sər-ˈvā-shən, -zər-\

Simple Definition of observation

  • : a statement about something you have noticed : a comment or remark

  • : the act of careful watching and listening : the activity of paying close attention to someone or something in order to get information

  • : something you notice by watching and listening

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of observation

  1. 1 a :  an act or instance of observing a custom, rule, or law b :  observance 3

  2. 2 a :  an act of recognizing and noting a fact or occurrence often involving measurement with instruments <weather observations> b :  a record or description so obtained

  3. 3 :  a judgment on or inference from what one has observed; broadly :  remark, statement

  4. 4 obsolete :  attentive care :  heed

  5. 5 :  the condition of one that is observed <under observation at the hospital>


play \-shnəl, -shə-nəl\ adjective



Examples of observation in a sentence

  1. I'm not criticizing that kind of clothing. I'm just making an observation about the style.

  2. Her constant observations about the weather bored me.

  3. These facts are based on close observation of the birds in the wild.

  4. Observations made using the telescope have led to new theories.

  5. Some interesting observations came from the study.

  6. He recorded his observations in a notebook.

Origin and Etymology of observation

Middle French, from Latin observation-, observatio, from observare

First Known Use: 1535



adjective ob·ser·va·tion

Simple Definition of observation

  • : designed to be used while watching people or things

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of observation

  1. :  designed for use in viewing something (as scenery) or in making observations <an observation tower> <the observation platform>


First Known Use of observation


Rhymes with observation

abdication, aberration, abjuration, abnegation, abrogation, acceptation, acclamation, accusation, activation, adaptation, adjuration, admiration, adoration, adulation, adumbration, affectation, affirmation, aggravation, aggregation, agitation, allegation, allocation, amputation, alteration, altercation, animation, annexation, annotation, appellation, application, approbation, arbitration, arrogation, aspiration, assignation, attestation, augmentation, automation, aviation, avocation, blaxploitation, botheration, calculation, calibration, cancellation, carbonation, castigation, celebration, cerebration, chlorination, circulation, cogitation, collocation, coloration, combination, comfort station, commendation, commutation, compensation, complication, computation, concentration, condemnation, condensation, confirmation, confiscation, conflagration, conformation, confrontation, congregation, conjugation, connotation, consecration, conservation, consolation, constellation, consternation, constipation, consultation, consummation, contemplation, conurbation, conversation, convocation, copulation, coronation, corporation, correlation, corrugation, crenellation, crop rotation, culmination, cultivation, cumulation, cybernation, decimation, declamation, declaration, declination, decoration, dedication, defamation, defecation, deformation, degradation, dehydration, delectation, delegation, demarcation, demonstration, denigration, denotation, depilation, deportation, depravation, depredation, deputation, derivation, derogation, desecration, designation, desolation, desperation, destination, detestation, detonation, devastation, deviation, dislocation, dispensation, disputation, dissertation, dissipation, distillation, divination, domination, education, elevation, elongation, emanation, embarkation, embrocation, emendation, emigration, emulation, enervation, escalation, estimation, evocation, exaltation, excavation, excitation, exclamation, exculpation, execration, exhalation, exhortation, exhumation, expectation, expiation, expiration, explanation, explication, exploitation, exploration, exportation, expurgation, extirpation, exultation, fabrication, fascination, federation, fenestration, fermentation, fibrillation, figuration, filling station, fire station, flagellation, fluoridation, fluctuation, forestation, formulation, fornication, fragmentation, fulmination, fumigation, gene mutation, generation, germination, glaciation, graduation, granulation, gravitation, habitation, hesitation, hibernation, hyphenation, ideation, imitation, immigration, immolation, implantation, implication, importation, imprecation, imputation, incantation, incarnation, inclination, incrustation, incubation, indentation, indication, indignation, infestation, infiltration, inflammation, information, inhalation, innovation, inspiration, installation, instigation, insulation, integration, intimation, intonation, inundation, invitation, invocation, irrigation, irritation, iteration, jubilation, laceration, lamentation, lamination, legislation, levitation, liberation, limitation, lineation, liquidation, litigation, lubrication, lucubration, maceration, machination, malformation, masturbation, maturation, mediation, medication, meditation, melioration, menstruation, ministration, mitigation, moderation, modulation, molestation, motivation, mutilation, navigation, nomination, obfuscation, objurgation, obligation, occupation, operation, orchestration, ordination, oscillation, osculation, ostentation, ovulation, oxidation, pagination, palpitation, penetration, percolation, perforation, permeation, permutation, perpetration, perspiration, perturbation, pigmentation, pixilation, police station, pollination, population, postulation, power station, predication, preparation, presentation, preservation, proclamation, procreation, profanation, prolongation, promulgation, propagation, prorogation, protestation, provocation, publication, punctuation, radiation, recantation, recitation, reclamation, re-creation, recreation, reformation, refutation, registration, regulation, rehydration, relaxation, relocation, renovation, reparation, replication, reprobation, reputation, reservation, resignation, respiration, restoration, retardation, revelation, revocation, ruination, rumination, rustication, salutation, sanitation, saturation, segmentation, segregation, separation, sequestration, service station, sexploitation, simulation, situation, speciation, speculation, spoliation, stimulation, stipulation, strangulation, structuration, stylization, subjugation, sublimation, suffocation, syncopation, syndication, tabulation, termination, T formation, titillation, toleration, transfer station, transformation, translocation, transmigration, transmutation, transpiration, transplantation, transportation, trepidation, tribulation, ulceration, ululation, undulation, urination, vaccination, vacillation, validation, valuation, variation, vegetation, veneration, ventilation, vindication, violation, visitation, weather station

OBSERVATION Defined for Kids


noun ob·ser·va·tion \ˌäb-sər-ˈvā-shən, -zər-\

Definition of observation for Students

  1. 1 :  an act or the power of seeing or taking notice of something <His detailed description shows great powers of observation.>

  2. 2 :  the gathering of information by noting facts or occurrences <weather observations>

  3. 3 :  an opinion formed or expressed after watching or noticing <It's not a criticism, just an observation.>

  4. 4 :  the fact of being watched and studied <The patient was in the hospital for observation.>

Medical Dictionary


noun ob·ser·va·tion \ˌäb-sər-ˈvā-shən, -zər-\

Medical Definition of observation

  1. 1:  the noting of a fact or occurrence (as in nature) often involving the measurement of some magnitude with suitable instruments <temperature observations>; also :  a record so obtained

  2. 2:  close watch or examination (as to monitor or diagnose a condition) <postoperative observation> <psychiatric observation>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up observation? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a simplified speech bridging languages

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which is a synonym of indolent?

frenetic lazy philistine melancholy
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.