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

Overcrowding of families observed by OIG on June 11, 2019, at Border Patrol's McAllen, Texas, Centralized Processing Center. Jasmine Aguilera, Time, "'Ticking Time Bomb': New Government Report Details Overcrowding, Prolonged Detention and Security Risks at Border Patrol Facilities," 2 July 2019 The conditions observed by IndyStar suggest the city doesn't necessarily know when a home is transformed. Ryan Martin, Indianapolis Star, "'They’re just patching it up': Tenants lack electricity, water in homes Joe Hogsett calls 'transformed'," 1 July 2019 Immigrants are not supposed to be in Customs and Border Protection custody for over 72 hours, but more than 500 of the 756 immigrants observed by the DHS inspectors at the facility on May 7 had been held there over 72 hours. NBC News, "DHS warned in May of border station conditions so bad agents feared riots," 1 July 2019 More than half the county’s residents are African Americans, as were more than 90% of Methodist’s defendants observed by a reporter in court this year. Wendi C. Thomas, ProPublica, "The Nonprofit Hospital That Makes Millions, Owns a Collection Agency and Relentlessly Sues the Poor," 27 June 2019 Creektrail near Avalon Apartments: A 60-year-old woman and another female were observed by an officer feeding feral cats. Rachel Spacek, The Mercury News, "Campbell crime report for the week of July 5," 27 June 2019 At the time, a team of officers observed by a Wall Street Journal reporter made several fruitless stops across Los Angeles. Alex Leary, WSJ, "U.S. Cities Prepare for Federal Immigration Raids," 22 June 2019 Check out the 10 colleges that have produced the most NBA players all-time, according to data observed by Grand Canyon University: 1. Jenna West, SI.com, "Which Colleges Have Produced the Most NBA Players All-Time?," 20 June 2019 Sometimes these discussions are elevated to management, while other discussions are surely observed by management. John Herrman, New York Times, "Slack Wants to Replace Email. Is That What We Want?," 19 June 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

8 Jul 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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