ob·​ser·​va·​to·​ry əb-ˈzər-və-ˌtȯr-ē How to pronounce observatory (audio)
plural observatories
: 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
: a situation or structure commanding a wide view

Examples of observatory in a Sentence

the observatory is located on a mountaintop
Recent Examples on the Web All across the Bay Area Monday morning in back yards, outside schools, atop office buildings and observatories people paused to watch a rare astronomical spectacle: a partial solar eclipse. Nollyanne Delacruz, The Mercury News, 8 Apr. 2024 In 2015, scientists at LIGO, an observatory whose construction had taken decades of dreaming and designing and revising, ran an experiment that within days detected those gravitational waves. Rivka Galchen, The New Yorker, 30 Mar. 2024 Such findings are only possible due to the extreme sensitivity this and the other three radio telescopes at the observatory possess. Popular Science, 7 Mar. 2024 Traveling a bit to the east from Kitt Peak, at Mount Graham International Observatory, the Vatican has an operational observatory. Caralin Nunes, The Arizona Republic, 29 Jan. 2024 In this photo, the lidar is being shot nearly straight up from an observatory at McMurdo Station. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 24 Jan. 2024 The discovery center, spanning 23,000 square feet and planned to open in the fall of 2025, will house a planetarium, observatory, exhibit hall and theater. The Arizona Republic, 29 Mar. 2024 Water is more prevalent than previously believed, and the organic components of life are ubiquitous, according to evidence from new, powerful observatories, including the James Webb Telescope. Chuck Brooks, Forbes, 29 Feb. 2024 As the eclipse approaches, many places like local libraries, astronomical observatories, schools and other public agencies will provide proper eyewear, often for free. Eric Lagatta, USA TODAY, 24 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'observatory.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


probably from New Latin observatorium, from Latin observare

First Known Use

1673, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of observatory was in 1673

Dictionary Entries Near observatory

Cite this Entry

“Observatory.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/observatory. Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


ob·​ser·​va·​to·​ry əb-ˈzər-və-ˌtōr-ē How to pronounce observatory (audio)
plural observatories
: a place or institution equipped with instruments for observation of natural objects and events (as in astronomy)
: a place providing a wide view

More from Merriam-Webster on observatory

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