ob·​ser·​vance | \əb-ˈzər-vən(t)s \

Definition of observance 

1a : a customary practice, rite, or ceremony Sabbath observances

b : a rule governing members of a religious order

2 : an act or instance of following a custom, rule, or law observance of the speed limits

3 : an act or instance of watching

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of observance in a Sentence

the observance of this family tradition would make your grandmother very happy observance of the smoking ban in public buildings

Recent Examples on the Web

The 2-by-3-foot polymer monument that tells the story of the USCT was unveiled Saturday in an observance that community activists described as long overdue. Kristin E. Holmes, Philly.com, "Mayor Kenney references Starbucks arrests at ceremony honoring African American Civil War troops," 21 Apr. 2018 In observance of the community's 50th year, here's a visual look back at Columbia since its beginning. Jean Marbella, baltimoresun.com, "Columbia faces losing some of its neighborhood centers, and some say, its heart," 16 Apr. 2018 As a part of JPMorgan Chase's Women's History Month observance, the firm will hold a panel Thursday to discuss global philanthropy and women on the move. Essence.com, "JPMorgan Chase Plans To Invest $1 Million To Support Women Entrepreneurs Of Color In Tech," 28 Mar. 2018 What particularly infuriates Bronfman is the discrimination of the Israeli government against the Jews of the diaspora, like himself, whose religious observance is more relaxed. Lisa Miller, Daily Intelligencer, "The Face of Birthright Israel Is Speaking Out Against the Prime Minister," 30 May 2018 Sponsored by the National Fraternal Order of Police, the annual observance is part of National Police Week. Jeff Weiner, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Peace Officers Memorial Day: These Orlando-area officers lost their lives on duty in the past decade," 15 May 2018 To continue reading this story, TRY IT NOW Tuesday’s observance, one of the first events of Tricentennial’s Commemorative Week, will include a re-enactment and various speeches. Scott Huddleston, San Antonio Express-News, "San Pedro Springs event Tuesday to recall founding of original mission," 30 Apr. 2018 There were also scattered private observances, including by American Jews returning to the soil where their parents and grandparents lived and died. Monika Scislowska, BostonGlobe.com, "Poland marks 75th anniversary of uprising in Warsaw Ghetto," 19 Apr. 2018 The Good Friday crucifixion observance is part of a weeklong celebration of the final week Jesus spent on earth, beginning with Palm Sunday followed by Maundy Thursday and the Last Supper of Christ. The Aegis, "Way of the Cross to highlight Good Friday in HdG," 30 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'observance.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of observance

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about observance

Share observance

Statistics for observance

Last Updated

6 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for observance

The first known use of observance was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for observance



English Language Learners Definition of observance

: the practice of following a custom, rule, law, etc.

: an act that is part of a ceremony or ritual


ob·​ser·​vance | \əb-ˈzər-vəns \

Kids Definition of observance

1 : an established practice or ceremony religious observances

2 : an act of following a custom, rule, or law Careful observance of the speed limit is a wise idea.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on observance

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


obstinately defiant of authority

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!