noun ob·ser·va·tion \ ˌäb-sər-ˈvā-shən , -zər- \
|Updated on: 7 Jun 2018

Definition of observation

1 a : an act or instance of observing a custom, rule, or law
  • observation of the dress code
b : observance 3
  • The characters in her novel are based on close observation of her family.
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
  • Scientific observations were sent to the committee.
3 : a judgment on or inference (see inference 1) 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


play \ˌäb-sər-ˈvā-shnəl, -shə-nᵊl, -zər-\ 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.

Recent Examples of observation from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of observation

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




Definition of observation

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

Origin and Etymology of observation

OBSERVATION Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of observation for English Language Learners

  • : 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


Definition of observation for English Language Learners

  • : designed to be used while watching people or things

OBSERVATION Defined for Kids


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

Definition of observation for Students

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.

Medical Dictionary


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

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

Seen and Heard

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soothing, mild, or foolish

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