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 There seemed to be less standing around than usual, with people looking to observe social distancing mandates. Christina Tkacik, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore’s Ottobar reopens after raising nearly $150,000 through GoFundMe," 27 Feb. 2021 But what if the operator didn’t have the benefit of a visual aide to observe the hacker in real time? Dave Weinstein, WSJ, "Hackers May Be Coming for Your City’s Water Supply," 26 Feb. 2021 On a day when Vice President Harris showed up to observe vaccinations inside a Southeast Washington pharmacy, an unknown number of qualified residents were locked out from registering for an appointment. Washington Post, "U.S. sailors on warship in Middle East test positive for coronavirus," 26 Feb. 2021 Mortgage-burning ceremonies are a tradition churches observe to commemorate their last mortgage payment. Samantha Hill, The Conversation, "How Black people in the 19th century used photography as a tool for social change," 26 Feb. 2021 Influencers in the Wild tends to observe people like this from a distance, like dangerous lions. New York Times, "When Influencers Make Fools of Themselves," 24 Feb. 2021 This lets astronomers observe events that unfold very rapidly. Max G. Levy, Wired, "Twinkling Black Holes Reveal an Invisible Cloud in Our Galaxy," 24 Feb. 2021 Political parties/candidates must be allowed to observe signature-matching. John Haughey, Washington Examiner, "Florida Republicans cheer DeSantis’ election reform proposals," 24 Feb. 2021 After that the full Moon has risen high in the sky and has become too bright to observe comfortably. Jamie Carter, Forbes, "How, When And Where To See The ‘Snow Moon,’ The First Of The Lunar New Year," 24 Feb. 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

2 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Observe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/observe. Accessed 6 Mar. 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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