Definition of observe
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 childrenb : 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.”
observinglyplay \əb-ˈzər-viŋ-lē\ adverb
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.
Recent Examples of observe from the Web
Devil's Dozen Donut Shop in Little Italy is observing the holiday by unveiling new flavors, such as circus animal cookie donut, the classic Homer Simpson (DOH)nut, a birthday cake batter donut and a funfetti old fashioned.
The trial was observed by the International Federation of Journalists, USAID and other groups.
In addition, staffers can observe if children might need additional services and connect them with the necessary resources, Evans said.
While there are disagreements about the exact nature, magnitude, and timing of these changes, the science is clear that global climate change is being observed.
Memorial Day, observed on the last Monday of May, commemorates the men and women who died while serving in the military.
Muslim fishermen from the nearby coastal town of Beruwala came with their boats to help evacuate those stranded while observing the Ramadan fast.
But the rule was strictly observed during the Obama administration, and GOP opposition to [Obama’s] nominees partly explains why Trump entered office with more than 120 judicial vacancies to fill.
But there is much to appreciate about gulls, and their complex behaviors are reason enough to observe them more thoughtfully.
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.
Synonym Discussion of observe
OBSERVE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of observe for English Language Learners
: 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 Defined for Kids
Definition of observe for Students
1 : to watch carefully They observed her behavior.
2 : to act in agreement with : obey Remember to observe the law.
3 : celebrate 1 Next Friday we will observe a religious holiday.
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up observe? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).