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

Synonyms for observatory


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Examples of observatory in a Sentence

the observatory is located on a mountaintop
Recent Examples on the Web The level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached a record high in April, according to measurements at an observatory on Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano. WSJ, 6 May 2022 Over time, computer technology has vastly increased the amount of data that can be used to analyze ring patterns, making the process much more accurate, said Edward R. Cook, a research professor at the observatory. New York Times, 17 Sep. 2021 But politics at home cut short his tenure at the observatory. Richard Stone, Science | AAAS, 12 July 2021 Christopher Nye, a volcanologist at the observatory, told me. Jennifer Leman, The Atlantic, 5 July 2021 Twice in 2021, daily levels recorded at the observatory have exceeded 420 parts per million, researchers said. BostonGlobe.com, 7 June 2021 Scientists at the volcano observatory weren’t able to adequately warn the public of the eruption because of a funding cut, Mahinda said. Fox News, 25 May 2021 And the night sky in Iceland is practically one big observatory, the universe in a fishbowl. Dan Neil, WSJ, 24 Mar. 2022 The Russian meteorological observatory Vostok — about 808 miles from the South Pole and 11,444 feet above sea level — hit 0.1 degrees (minus-17.7 Celsius) on March 18. Washington Post, 22 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for observatory

Time Traveler

The first known use of observatory was in 1673

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Last Updated

12 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Observatory.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/observatory. Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for observatory


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)

More from Merriam-Webster on observatory

Nglish: Translation of observatory for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of observatory for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about observatory


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