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 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web One hundred and thirty-four election observers from each party were permitted inside to observe the count in real time. Matt Labash, The New Republic, "An Epic Debate on Trump and True Evangelicalism," 5 Apr. 2021 Marmion and Metea Valley, whose starts also were delayed when the teams had to observe a two-week quarantine, each played 10 games. Rick Armstrong, chicagotribune.com, "Column: For East Aurora’s Amarion Savage, the last dance might not have been the best dance. But it was well worth getting out on the floor.," 17 Mar. 2021 With the acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne AJRD +0.4%, LMT’s Space and Missiles & Fire Control divisions are likely to observe top line growth in the coming years. Trefis Team, Forbes, "Time To Buy Lockheed Martin Stock?," 12 Mar. 2021 Encourage your children to observe their thoughts with curiosity rather than fear, in a nonjudgmental way rather than with shame. Washington Post, "Our obsession with happiness is making our kids miserable," 23 Feb. 2021 Multiple telescopes were used in the discovery and astronomers are eager to observe it more in the future. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Oldest quasar and supermassive black hole discovered in the distant universe," 14 Jan. 2021 Places of worship still must operate at 50% capacity but no longer have to observe numerical caps. Briana Bierschbach, Star Tribune, "Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz loosens restrictions on indoor dining, other venues," 11 Jan. 2021 The millions of people who may well start getting vaccinated as soon as December will also be a kind of Phase 4 trial, an aftermarket test group in which scientists can observe what the vaccine does to transmission of the disease in the real world. Adam Rogers, Wired, "Does the AstraZeneca Vaccine Also Stop Covid Transmission?," 25 Nov. 2020 Cruz plans to travel to the Rio Grande Valley on Friday with Sen. John Cornyn, a fellow Texas Republican, and other GOP senators to observe the conditions. Susan Ferrechio, Washington Examiner, "Cruz asks Biden to stop blocking media access to overwhelmed border facilities," 22 Mar. 2021

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

7 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Observe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/observe. Accessed 15 Apr. 2021.

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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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Comments on observe

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