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

Outside its native country, Delvaux has observed a low-key profile for nearly 200 years, but that is starting to change—a new flagship in New York is a testament to its growing ambition. Olivia Martin, Town & Country, "Delvaux, the Brand Beloved by Belgian Royals and Lady Gaga Alike, Lands in NYC," 21 Mar. 2019 For instance, Truth Initiative researchers have observed that different age groups tend to use different terms to describe their devices, Graham says, so the language of the messages reflect that. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "So, You Want to Quit Vaping...," 1 Feb. 2019 Yang has observed that the only way to prevent more Trump-like electoral upsets in the future is to replace the income of people whose jobs that are being zapped up by automation (so everyone, basically). Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "Everybody Running for President in 2020," 18 Jan. 2019 Stargazers have observed Venus’s vivid radiance for thousands of years. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What the Position of Venus in Your Birth Chart Means for You," 31 July 2018 Randolph Cohen and Eric Eisner have observed the trend in their U18 Sports Medicine practice at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood. Craig Davis, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Teen Tommy John surgeries, youth sports injuries reach epidemic proportions," 28 June 2018 Many observers have observed that Bumgarner would be worth a nice return in young prospects. Scott Ostler, SFChronicle.com, "Bumgarner’s back, bringing new life to Giants," 27 June 2018 Since the mission was restarted in December 2013, NEOWISE has observed or detected more than 29,000 asteroids in infrared light, of which 788 were near-Earth objects. Marcia Dunn, OrlandoSentinel.com, "U.S. stepping up Earth's protection from asteroids, comets," 26 June 2018 Spending time visiting with family and observing life in these distinct places helped give the creative duo a new perspective on everyday life. Sara Radin, Teen Vogue, "Poche Studio Is the Fashion Brand Making Bucket Hats Inspired by Cakes," 17 May 2019

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

10 Jun 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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