observe

verb
ob·​serve | \ əb-ˈzərv How to pronounce observe (audio) \
observed; observing

Definition of observe

transitive verb

1 : to conform one's action or practice to (something, such as a law, rite, or condition) : comply with failed to observe the law and as a consequence had to pay a fine
2 : to inspect or take note of as an augury, omen, or presage observed the flight of the sacred geese
3 : to celebrate or solemnize (something, such as a ceremony or festival) in a customary or accepted way observed Independence Day with a parade
4a : to watch carefully especially with attention to details or behavior for the purpose of arriving at a judgment observed the behavior of the children
b : to make a scientific observation on or of observed the mating habits of the grouse
5 : to come to realize or know especially through consideration of noted facts observed that the indefinite reduction of any given risk to society often brings with it an increase in other risks.— E. L. Zebroski
6 : to utter as a remark "The paint," she observed, "is already starting to peel."

intransitive verb

1a : to take notice When your teacher is demonstrating something, sit up and observe!
b : to make observations : watch Perform your tricks, and we will observe.
2 : remark, comment In her speech she observed on the changing climate.

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Other Words from observe

observingly \ əb-​ˈzər-​viŋ-​lē How to pronounce observingly (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for observe

keep, observe, celebrate, commemorate mean to notice or honor a day, occasion, or deed. keep stresses the idea of not neglecting or violating. kept the Sabbath by refraining from work observe suggests marking the occasion by ceremonious performance. not all holidays are observed nationally celebrate suggests acknowledging an occasion by festivity. traditionally celebrates Thanksgiving with a huge dinner commemorate suggests that an occasion is marked by observances that remind one of the origin and significance of the event. commemorate Memorial Day with the laying of wreaths

Examples of observe in a Sentence

The class will be observing the movements of fish. The patient must be observed constantly. Children learn by observing their parents and others. The new teacher will give the lesson today and the principal will observe. We observed a large flock of birds heading north. He observed two children playing with marbles on the street corner. She observed that every man in the room had removed his hat. Few cases of the disease have been observed in humans.
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Recent Examples on the Web

But people who watch his show or who’ve observed the GOP in action over the past several decades know what just what the movement stands for. Glamour, "Tucker Carlson Said Furious Women Should Watch Him. Here’s What I See.," 19 Mar. 2019 Today, interactions between the pope and the cardinal, previously friendly and spontaneous, have become noticeably formal and terse, says a person who has observed them together. Francis X. Rocca, WSJ, "‘It Will Cause a Scandal.’ The Pope and a Trusted U.S. Cardinal Clash Over Sex-Abuse Crisis," 14 Feb. 2019 For example, scientists might set the following policy: if the spacecraft spots a thermal emission that is above two megawatts, the spacecraft should keep observing it on the next overflight. Alyson Behr, Ars Technica, "NASA’s next Mars rover will use AI to be a better science partner," 6 Dec. 2018 In addition, officials from the Forest Preserves of Cook County, which runs several wooded areas that surround Chicago, are looking into the behavior of a police officer who observed the incident and appeared to do little or nothing to stop it. Matthew Diebel, USA TODAY, "Caught on video: Man harangues woman in park for wearing Puerto Rico shirt; police officer does little to help," 10 July 2018 Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus asked city residents to play it safe this summer, and to get familiar with the rules and regulations of city parks and to observe them, including the one that about swimming only when a lifeguard is present. Manoella Macedo, ajc, "Several drownings in same week raise water safety concerns," 9 July 2018 But a spokesman said the Yankees had evaluated Gardner throughout the game by observing him each half-inning. New York Times, "Brett Gardner Shook Off a Collision, but Questions Persist," 28 June 2018 The monument is sacred to members of Britain’s Druid and Pagan communities, who observe various rites and rituals at the site, including on the winter solstice in December. Eli Meixler, Time, "Thousands Gather for Summer Solstice at Stonehenge to Celebrate the Longest Day of the Year," 21 June 2018 Such pickup games demand creativity and improvisation, and reward those who are constantly observing their surroundings and recalibrating their moves accordingly. Laurent Dubois, The Atlantic, "How Not to Scout for Soccer Talent," 14 June 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for observe

Middle English, from Anglo-French observer, from Latin observare to guard, watch, observe, from ob- in the way, toward + servare to keep — more at conserve

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Statistics for observe

Last Updated

15 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for observe

The first known use of observe was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for observe

observe

verb

English Language Learners Definition of observe

: to watch and sometimes also listen to (someone or something) carefully
: to see and notice (someone or something)
: to make a comment about something you notice

observe

verb
ob·​serve | \ əb-ˈzərv How to pronounce observe (audio) \
observed; observing

Kids Definition of observe

1 : to watch carefully They observed her behavior.
2 : to act in agreement with : obey Remember to observe the law.
3 : celebrate sense 1 Next Friday we will observe a religious holiday.
4 : remark entry 2, say “Those are some big ears he's got, too,” observed his uncle Alfred.— Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux

Other Words from observe

observer noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on observe

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with observe

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for observe

Spanish Central: Translation of observe

Nglish: Translation of observe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of observe for Arabic Speakers

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