observe

verb
ob·​serve | \ əb-ˈzərv \
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 \ 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

Over the course of October and November, Randazzo spent three days observing Waymo's cars in action—either by following them on the roads or staking out the company's depot in Chandler. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Even self-driving leader Waymo is struggling to reach full autonomy," 7 Dec. 2018 But a lot of it comes from observing interactions with people and working from there. James Vincent, The Verge, "Teaching robots body language offers common ground for humans and machines," 11 Nov. 2018 Within that context, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette honors the Jewish victims of this tragedy as Jews, by observing an important ritual within their own theological tradition. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette honors the Tree of Life fallen with a traditional Jewish prayer," 2 Nov. 2018 These attorneys also plan to allege that GOP attorneys were blocked from observing absentee ballots by Allegheny County election supervisors. Alex Pappas, Fox News, "Pennsylvania special election may see recount; Lamb, Saccone separated by razor-thin margin," 2 Oct. 2018 There is also evidence that the Atlantic circulation is weakening again, although scientists certainly do not think a total shutoff is imminent, and are still debating the causes of what is being observed. Christopher Mooney, BostonGlobe.com, "Scientists may have solved a huge riddle that led to more than 1,000 years of cold on Earth. It doesn’t bode well," 12 July 2018 This new method of observing is known as multi-messenger astronomy. Sophia Chen, WIRED, "What's a Blazar? A Galactic Bakery for Cosmic Rays," 12 July 2018 As much of social media observed Kanye West's recent online feud with Drake, Ariana had some pointed words to share. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Ariana Grande Urged Fans to Ignore Kanye West and Drake's Feud and Listen to "Imagine" and Miley Cyrus," 14 Dec. 2018 According to Rolling Stone, which spoke with a concert security expert who observed the kiosk, attendees who looked at the kiosk were immediately scanned. Stefan Etienne, The Verge, "Taylor Swift tracked stalkers with facial recognition tech at her concert," 12 Dec. 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

7 Jan 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 \
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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