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 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 One of those is the XENON observatory, which is essentially a giant tank containing 3.5 tons of liquid xenon sitting in a laboratory nearly a mile underground. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Dark Matter Scientists Observe the Rarest Event in History," 27 Apr. 2019 Today, there are observatories that cover the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Eileen Meyer, Smithsonian, "Big Data is Transforming How Astronomers Make Discoveries," 15 May 2018 Kim’s grandfather used to go to an observatory overlooking the border and just look across. Anna Fifield And Min Joo Kim, Washington Post, "Some Korean Americans have a personal stake in next week’s summit: Finding family," 7 June 2018 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

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

9 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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Comments on observatory

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