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 Guests will also be encouraged to observe proper social-distancing protocol and heed floor markings indicating where to stand, when present. Fox News, "Universal Orlando Resort sets reopening date; guests to be screened for temperature, required to use sanitizer," 23 May 2020 If not living in fear of Amazon deliveries is the good news, the bad news is people are starting to venture into public spaces again, not always observing social distancing. TheWeek, "Worry about contact with people, not objects, CDC advises in coronavirus guidelines," 22 May 2020 The study focuses on green algae, which are the easiest to observe by satellite. Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American, "In Summer, Antarctic Snow Turns Green with Algae," 22 May 2020 The group is still helping out Feeding Medina County and plans to plant flowers (while observing social distancing) at Jump Park on June 2 and 3. Sam Boyer, cleveland, "Schools, families find new ways to celebrate: Whit & Whimsey," 22 May 2020 Shortly after midnight, deputies were walking southbound on Delaware and observed two men (Alphonso Parker and Charles Turner) exchanging a firearm. Tanya A. Christian, Essence, "3,000-Person Block Party In Florida Leads To Arrests, Claims Of Racism," 21 May 2020 After spending hours outside each day—clambering over logs, exploring under rocks, learning to quietly observe wildlife—shy children became bolder, and hesitation gradually morphed into confidence. Michelle Z. Donahue, National Geographic, "Worried about a coronavirus summer slump? Boost kids’ brainpower with nature.," 21 May 2020 This is an innovative way to enjoy Van Gogh while also observing social distancing practices. Andrea Romano, Travel + Leisure, "You Can Drive Through a Van Gogh Painting at This Magical Art Exhibit in Canada," 21 May 2020 In addition to observing standard social distancing rules, the restaurant will not accommodate parties larger than eight guests at a time and is asking diners to keep dining experiences to 90 minutes, according to a post on its Facebook page. Louisville Courier Journal, "Louisville restaurants reopen this weekend. Here are 12+ places where you can eat outside," 21 May 2020

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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Time Traveler for observe

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for observe

Last Updated

26 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Observe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/observe. Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for observe

observe

verb
How to pronounce observe (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for observe

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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