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

Exploiting large radio telescopes around the globe — relying on the newest, most sophisticated observatories and reviving some that were nearly defunct — EHT became a composite telescope the size of the Earth. Quanta Magazine, "What the Sight of a Black Hole Means to a Black Hole Physicist," 10 Apr. 2019 For their latest work, Love’s team obtained records of magnetic storms detected at observatories, then combined them with new surveys that measured the local magnetic field and its related electrical field. National Geographic, "Solar storms can be even worse if you live near certain rocks," 18 Mar. 2019 But the mission team put the observatory to sleep less than a month later after noticing that Kepler's pointing ability had degraded. Mike Wall, Space.com, "NASA's Kepler Planet-Hunting Space Telescope Wakes Up Again," 13 Oct. 2018 The National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy funds the detection and tracking of asteroids and other objects in space for the next decade at observatories across the country. Laney Ruckstuhl, BostonGlobe.com, "NASA issues asteroid preparedness plan," 21 June 2018 The 19th-floor penthouse is located in the old observatory of the building at 6 N. Michigan Ave. Bob Goldsborough, chicagotribune.com, "Brandon Marshall takes loss on Loop penthouse, selling for $3.2 million," 4 June 2019 The observatory would require a major restoration, since it has been tarred over, Mr. Linard said. Katherine Clarke, WSJ, "Two Harlem Townhouses Ask One Record-Breaking $27 Million Price," 11 Jan. 2019 The statement did not say when the observatory would reopen. Javier Panzar, latimes.com, "Griffith Observatory to remain closed through Friday after brush fire scorches parkland," 12 July 2018 The Frenchman got an assist from JCOMMOPS, an international marine observatory, which provided him with markers to drop off at various parts of the sea to help study ocean currents. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "This 72-Year-Old Frenchman Just Crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a Giant Orange Barrel," 7 May 2019

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

23 Jun 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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showing courage and determination

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