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


verb \ˈwäch, ˈwȯch\

Simple Definition of watch

  • : to look at (someone or something) for an amount of time and pay attention to what is happening

  • : to give your attention to (a situation, an event, etc.)

  • : to care for (someone or something) for a period of time in order to make sure that nothing bad or unwanted happens

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of watch

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to keep vigil as a devotional exercise b :  to be awake during the night

  3. 2 a :  to be attentive or vigilant b :  to keep guard

  4. 3 a :  to keep someone or something under close observation b :  to observe as a spectator <the country watched as stocks fell sharply>

  5. 4 :  to be expectant :  wait <watch for the signal>

  6. transitive verb
  7. 1 :  to keep under guard

  8. 2 a :  to observe closely in order to check on action or change <being watched by the police> b :  to look at :  observe <sat and watched the crowd> c :  to look on at <watch television> <watch a ball game>

  9. 3 a :  to take care of :  tend b :  to be careful of <watches his diet>

  10. 4 :  to be on the alert for :  bide <watched her opportunity>

watch it
  1. :  look out :  be careful <watch it when you handle the glassware>

watch one's step
  1. :  to proceed with extreme care :  act or talk warily

watch over
  1. :  to have charge of :  superintend

Examples of watch in a sentence

  1. They have a rookie on the team who is fun to watch.

  2. I fell asleep watching television.

  3. What movie are you watching?

  4. Mom, watch me do a cartwheel!

  5. She sat and watched the children play.

  6. Would you like to play, too? No, I'll just watch.

  7. Just sit back and watch.

  8. Keep watching to see what happens next.

  9. What happens next? Watch and see.

  10. People are watching this presidential race very carefully.

Origin of watch

Middle English wacchen, from Old English wæccan — more at wake

First Known Use: before 12th century




Simple Definition of watch

  • : a device that shows what time it is and that you wear on your wrist or carry in a pocket

  • : the act of giving your attention to someone or something especially in order to make sure that nothing bad or unwanted happens

  • : the act of looking for someone or something that you expect to see : the act of regularly checking to see if someone has arrived or if something has appeared or happened

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of watch

  1. 1 a :  the act of keeping awake to guard, protect, or attend b obsolete :  the state of being wakeful c :  a wake over a dead body d :  a state of alert and continuous attention e :  close observation :  surveillance f :  a notice or bulletin that alerts the public to the possibility of severe weather conditions occurring in the near future <a winter storm watch>

  2. 2 a :  any of the definite divisions of the night made by ancient peoples b :  one of the indeterminate intervals marking the passage of night —usually used in plural <the silent watches of the night>

  3. 3 a :  lookout, watchman b archaic :  the office or function of a sentinel or guard

  4. 4 a :  a body of soldiers or sentinels making up a guard b :  a watchman or body of watchmen formerly assigned to patrol the streets of a town at night, announce the hours, and act as police

  5. 5 a (1) :  a portion of time during which a part of a ship's company is on duty (2) :  the part of a ship's company required to be on duty during a particular watch (3) :  a sailor's assigned duty period b :  a period of duty :  shift c :  a term as holder especially of an overseeing or managerial office <the business grew on her watch>

  6. 6 :  a portable timepiece designed to be worn (as on the wrist) or carried in the pocket — compare clock

Examples of watch in a sentence

  1. He glanced at his watch.

  2. When you're driving in winter you should always be on the watch for ice on the roads.

Before 12th Century

First Known Use of watch

before 12th century

Other Climate/Meteorology Terms

WATCH Defined for Kids



verb \ˈwäch\

Definition of watch for Students


  1. 1 :  to keep in view <Did you watch the game?>

  2. 2 :  to be on the lookout <I'm watching for a signal.>

  3. 3 :  to take care of :  tend <Watch the house until I get back.>

  4. 4 :  to be careful of <Watch your step.>

  5. 5 :  to keep guard <Watch outside the door.>

  6. 6 :  to stay awake <She watched at the sick child's bedside.>

watcher noun
watch out
  1. :  to be aware of and ready for <Remember to watch out for broken glass.>




Definition of watch for Students

  1. 1 :  a small timepiece worn on the wrist or carried

  2. 2 :  close observation

  3. 3 :  1guard 1

  4. 4 :  the time during which someone is on duty to guard or be on the lookout

  5. 5 :  an act of keeping awake to guard or protect

Seen and Heard

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


the range of perception or understanding

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of these is a synonym of nonplus?

perplex disapprove reduce soothe
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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