ob·​ser·​va·​to·​ry | \ əb-ˈzər-və-ˌtȯr-ē How to pronounce observatory (audio) \
plural observatories

Definition of observatory

1 : a building or place given over to or equipped for observation of natural phenomena (as in astronomy) also : an institution whose primary purpose is making such observations
2 : a situation or structure commanding a wide view

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Synonyms for observatory


lookout, outlook, overlook

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Examples of observatory in a Sentence

the observatory is located on a mountaintop

Recent Examples on the Web

The Sky Tower itself has an observatory deck for bonkers views of the city and Pacific ocean, and adrenaline junkies can strap in and walk along an outside ledge or bungee jump (!) off the tallest manmade structure in the country. Andrea Bartz, Marie Claire, "The Instagram Guide to Auckland, New Zealand," 11 Feb. 2019 Guests of Sao Lourenco do Barrocal, a farming village turned luxury resort can even have stargazing guides from the observatory come to them armed with telescopes. Matthew Kronsberg, WSJ, "Vacation in Portugal the Less-Obvious Way," 10 Aug. 2018 But when two of the objects somehow survived the gravitational pull of the Milky Way's supermassive black hole, astronomers knew the objects had to be something else, according to a statement from the observatory. Chelsea Gohd, Space.com, "Mysterious 'Puffy' Objects Lurk Near the Milky Way's Monster Black Hole," 11 June 2018 That all-important job will be left to Webb, the next-generation successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that's grounded until at least 2020, and even bigger observatories yet to come. Chris Ciaccia, Fox News, "NASA unveils first images from TESS probe's alien planet hunting quest," 18 Sep. 2018 This committee created the International Asteroid Warning Network—a group of asteroid-tracking astronomers and observatories around the world—to help facilitate the sharing of observations and other useful data about NEOs. Hanneke Weitering, Scientific American, "NASA Offers New Plan to Detect and Destroy Dangerous Asteroids," 21 June 2018 The previous day, Islamic State released a video showing the execution of two SDF hostages, the observatory said. Raja Abdulrahim, WSJ, "U.S.-Backed Forces Push to Capture Islamic State’s Last Territory in Syria," 11 Feb. 2019 The fire was reported just after 2 p.m. about a quarter-mile northwest of the observatory, according to the Fire Department. Javier Panzar, latimes.com, "Griffith Observatory to remain closed through Friday after brush fire scorches parkland," 12 July 2018 Spergel is one of the lead scientists planning NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), a space observatory slated to launch in the 2020s with a primary goal of studying dark energy. Lee Billings, Scientific American, "Cosmic Conflict: Diverging Data on Universe’s Expansion Polarizes Scientists," 16 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'observatory.' 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 observatory

1673, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for observatory

probably from New Latin observatorium, from Latin observare

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Statistics for observatory

Last Updated

14 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for observatory

The first known use of observatory was in 1673

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More Definitions for observatory



English Language Learners Definition of observatory

: a special building for studying stars, planets, weather, etc. : a building from which scientists study and watch the sky


ob·​ser·​va·​to·​ry | \ əb-ˈzər-və-ˌtȯr-ē How to pronounce observatory (audio) \
plural observatories

Kids Definition of observatory

: a place that has instruments for making observations (as of the stars)

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Comments on observatory

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


to affect and impair by alcohol or a drug

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