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 The reporter did not observe any of the people ahead of the woman being turned away. Los Angeles Times, "L.A. officials allowed dozens without medical credentials to get COVID-19 vaccine early," 6 Jan. 2021 Arguably the best-known of those myths is the story of the first Thanksgiving, a holiday Robert Magnan, who led the buffalo hunt at Fort Peck, does not observe. Brett Anderson, New York Times, "The Thanksgiving Myth Gets a Deeper Look This Year," 17 Nov. 2020 According to a Sunday report from Fox 9, the gathering lasted hours and many in attendance did not observe COVID guidelines. Editorial Board Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "No excuse for virus nondisclosure," 16 Nov. 2020 The bishop of Maine’s Roman Catholic diocese called on Catholics in the state to observe social distancing and other precautions this Christmas. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Governors vaccinated, Christmas precautions, medical worker shortage: News from around our 50 states," 23 Dec. 2020 Even in light-polluted Dallas, the planets will be bright enough to easily observe, Dr. Mary Urquhart, a planetary scientist and associate professor at UT Dallas told KXAS-TV (NBC 5). Dallas News, "Great Conjunction: How to spot the ‘Christmas Star’ in the skies of Dallas-Fort Worth," 21 Dec. 2020 During the last great conjunction in 2000, Jupiter and Saturn were so close to the sun that the event was difficult to observe. Sophie Lewis, CBS News, "Jupiter and Saturn will come within 0.1 degrees of each other, forming the first visible "double planet" in 800 years," 21 Dec. 2020 Authorities in Bangkok also called on people to step up preventive measures by avoiding gatherings, while entertainment venues and restaurants must observe social distancing. Reuters, CNN, "Thailand had kept its coronavirus cases under control. Now it's testing thousands as it battles a shrimp market outbreak," 20 Dec. 2020 Back in March, when the pall of the pandemic hung over the city, and long stretches of Broadway were as desolate as a dry creek bed, the New York Police Department began enforcing a mandate to observe social-distancing measures. Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker, "African-American Resistance to the COVID-19 Vaccine Reflects a Broader Problem," 19 Dec. 2020

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

13 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Observe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/observe. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for observe

observe

verb
How to pronounce observe (audio)

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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