ob·​ser·​va·​tion | \ ˌäb-sər-ˈvā-shən How to pronounce observation (audio) , -zər- \

Definition of observation

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : an act or instance of observing a custom, rule, or law observation of the dress code
b : observance sense 3 The characters in her novel are based on close observation of her family.
2a : an act of recognizing and noting a fact or occurrence often involving measurement with instruments weather observations
b : a record or description so obtained Scientific observations were sent to the committee.
3 : a judgment on or inference (see inference sense 2) from what one has observed broadly : remark, statement an insightful observation based his observations on his own research
4 obsolete : attentive care : heed
5 : the condition of one that is observed under observation at the hospital



Definition of observation (Entry 2 of 2)

: designed for use in viewing something (such as scenery) or in making observations an observation tower the observation platform

Other Words from observation


observational \ ˌäb-​sər-​ˈvā-​shnəl How to pronounce observation (audio) , -​shə-​nᵊl , -​zər-​ \ adjective
observationally adverb

Examples of observation in a Sentence

Noun I'm not criticizing that kind of clothing. I'm just making an observation about the style. Her constant observations about the weather bored me. These facts are based on close observation of the birds in the wild. Observations made using the telescope have led to new theories. Some interesting observations came from the study. He recorded his observations in a notebook. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun A few years ago, one of the women was processing a bowhead whale’s kidneys, saw that the part had festered and shared the observation with Stimmelmayr. Alena Naiden, Anchorage Daily News, 7 Aug. 2022 Part of the impetus of launching Rent the Runway in the last recession in 2009 was the observation that women were still buying lots of clothes. Walter Loeb, Forbes, 1 Aug. 2022 The second observation focuses on the Southern Ring Nebula, which is about 2,500 light years away. Michael Kan, PCMAG, 12 July 2022 The use of computer software to correct for variables such as weather, light levels, and camera settings verified the observation. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 11 July 2022 There are plenty of chances for surprises, either in precision measurements that may show the Higgs is produced or decays somewhat differently from our Standard Model predictions or through the observation of exotic phenomena related to the Higgs. Marcela Carena, Scientific American, 5 July 2022 This Italian brand follows its name ‘My.Organics’ to a T. With the observation that many cosmetic and hair products have chemicals that may actually be more harmful than good, the team at My. Grooming Playbook, The Salt Lake Tribune, 16 May 2022 The team, which published the observation last month in the journal Ecology, suspects that the dolphins were not trying to eat the snake but were playing with it. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, 12 May 2022 The first observation of this behavior in Costa Rica led to more questions for researchers. Tim Newcomb, Popular Mechanics, 11 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Other pre-observation activities and further tests are set to be conducted this week. Julia Musto, Fox News, 17 Mar. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of observation


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1862, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for observation

Noun and Adjective

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

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Time Traveler for observation

Time Traveler

The first known use of observation was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near observation




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Statistics for observation

Last Updated

14 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Observation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/observation. Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for observation


ob·​ser·​va·​tion | \ ˌäb-sər-ˈvā-shən How to pronounce observation (audio) , -zər- \

Kids Definition of observation

1 : an act or the power of seeing or taking notice of something His detailed description shows great powers of observation.
2 : the gathering of information by noting facts or occurrences weather observations
3 : an opinion formed or expressed after watching or noticing It's not a criticism, just an observation.
4 : the fact of being watched and studied The patient was in the hospital for observation.


ob·​ser·​va·​tion | \ ˌäb-sər-ˈvā-shən, -zər- How to pronounce observation (audio) \

Medical Definition of observation

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

More from Merriam-Webster on observation

Nglish: Translation of observation for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of observation for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about observation


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