Simple Definition of observe
: to watch and sometimes also listen to (someone or something) carefully
: to see and notice (someone or something)
: to make a comment about something you notice
Full Definition of observe
1 : to conform one's action or practice to (as a law, rite, or condition) : comply with
2 : to inspect or take note of as an augury, omen, or presage
3 : to celebrate or solemnize (as a ceremony or festival) in a customary or accepted way
4 a : to watch carefully especially with attention to details or behavior for the purpose of arriving at a judgment b : to make a scientific observation on or of
5 : to come to realize or know especially through consideration of noted facts
6 : to utter as a remark
Examples of observe
The class will be observing the movements of fish.
The patient must be observed constantly.
Children learn by observing their parents and others.
The new teacher will give the lesson today and the principal will observe.
We observed a large flock of birds heading north.
He observed two children playing with marbles on the street corner.
She observed that every man in the room had removed his hat.
Few cases of the disease have been observed in humans.
Origin of observe
Middle English, from Anglo-French observer, from Latin observare to guard, watch, observe, from ob- in the way, toward + servare to keep — more at conserve
First Known Use: 14th century
Synonym Discussion of observe
keep, retain, detain, withhold, reserve mean to hold in one's possession or under one's control. keep may suggest a holding securely in one's possession, custody, or control <keep this while I'm gone>. retain implies continued keeping, especially against threatened seizure or forced loss <managed to retain their dignity even in poverty>. detain suggests a delay in letting go <detained them for questioning>. withhold implies restraint in letting go or a refusal to let go <withheld information from the authorities>. reserve suggests a keeping in store for future use <reserve some of your energy for the last mile>.
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up observe? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).