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

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Other Words from observation


observational \ ˌäb-​sər-​ˈvā-​shnəl How to pronounce observational (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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The galaxy, known as XMM-2599, bulked up to a mass of about 300 billion suns, according to new observations published in the Feb. 10 Astrophysical Journal Letters. Fox News, "Ancient galaxy grew gigantic, then stopped making stars," 12 Feb. 2020 Based in The Chronicle’s newsroom, King gets his ideas from readers’ observations as well as the buildings and spaces that catch his eye. John King, SFChronicle.com, "Trump’s next target could be his most cynical yet — modern architecture," 9 Feb. 2020 The National Weather Service doesn’t have an observation station in or near Tuntutuliak, said Shaun Baines a meteorologist with the service in Anchorage. Morgan Krakow, Anchorage Daily News, "Frigid wind hinders recovery team after Southwest Alaska plane crash that killed 4 passengers and pilot," 7 Feb. 2020 The book’s episodic narrative, with its grab bag of anecdotes, observations and obliquely relevant factoids, is similarly dry and austere. Emily Bobrow, WSJ, "‘Weather’ Review: Happy Thoughts?," 7 Feb. 2020 These constellations will affect astronomy research — disrupting radio frequencies used for deep space observation and leaving bright streaks in telescope images. New York Times, "OneWeb Launches 34 Satellites as Astronomers Fear Radio Chatter," 6 Feb. 2020 When presented with the officer’s observation, the driver admitted using his brother’s identity. John Benson, cleveland, "Father with warrant arrested with baby in back seat: Brecksville Police Blotter," 5 Feb. 2020 During their advance on Saraqeb, Syrian forces surrounded four Turkish observation points, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and news opposition sites said. Suzan Fraser, Washington Post, "Syrian troops capture key rebel town despite Turkish warning," 5 Feb. 2020 For instance, observations in Wyoming have revealed that coyotes that team up with badgers save energy and likely time by not having to search, chase, and stalk Uinta ground squirrels. National Geographic, "THE BEST OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX," 5 Feb. 2020

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.

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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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Statistics for observation

Last Updated

15 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Observation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/observations. Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for observation


How to pronounce observation (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of observation

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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



English Language Learners Definition of observation (Entry 2 of 2)

: designed to be used while watching people or things


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

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