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.

Other Words from observe

observingly \ əb-​ˈzər-​viŋ-​lē How to pronounce observe (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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web As Walker's car headed up an entrance ramp to Route 8, authorities said officers heard gunshots coming from the vehicle, but did not observe a gun. Bill Hutchinson, ABC News, 3 July 2022 Hemsworth’s character, Steve, and his assistant observe the effects of the drugs on inmates through a giant picture window. Mark Feeney, BostonGlobe.com, 15 June 2022 Cellphones these days don’t observe boundaries, harboring data and information from people’s personal and professional lives. Erik Wemple, Washington Post, 31 May 2022 The 29-year-old was in a relationship and lived in New York City with a partner who didn't observe the holy month. Aya Elamroussi, CNN, 1 May 2022 Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said the latest effort to open a safe corridor for women, children and the elderly to escape failed because the Russians did not observe a cease-fire. Arkansas Online, 21 Apr. 2022 Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said an effort to open a humanitarian corridor for women, children and the elderly to escape failed because the Russians did not observe a cease-fire. Adam Schreck, chicagotribune.com, 20 Apr. 2022 Even some Southern Baptists didn’t observe the boycott, and many in Central Florida who work for the company were concerned about their jobs. Mark I. Pinsky, Variety, 4 Apr. 2022 Police did not observe signs of intoxication from the driver and no criminal charges are pending. Claire Bryan, San Antonio Express-News, 20 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About observe

Time Traveler for observe

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near observe

observatory

observe

observedly

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Statistics for observe

Last Updated

5 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Observe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/observe. Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for observe

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

More from Merriam-Webster on observe

Nglish: Translation of observe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of observe for Arabic Speakers

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