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

Mirror exposure therapy is a relatively new psychological approach in which participants observe themselves in a full-length mirror and talk about their bodies with the guidance of a therapist. Suzanne Oliver, WSJ, "How a Mirror Can Help People Who Hate Their Bodies," 29 Apr. 2019 These numbers were indexed to the number of Peloton customers observed in Q1 2017. Rani Molla, Recode, "Peloton now has more U.S. customers than SoulCycle, new data suggests," 3 Dec. 2018 And the Persian New Year, known as Nowruz, is still observed by millions on the spring equinox. Jill Gleeson, Country Living, "What Exactly Is the Spring Equinox?," 19 Mar. 2019 The annual affair takes place in honor of Commonwealth Day, which is observed by all 53 nations in the Commonwealth. Maggie Maloney, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle Wore a White Coat and Printed Dress to the Commonwealth Day Service in London," 11 Mar. 2019 In a sly side story, three animals that have been observing the cavemen recognize the vehicular potential of the new shapes and put them to use. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: The Travails and Triumphs of Derring-Do," 22 Feb. 2019 Be more aware of what is happening around you, and observe what people are doing and saying. BostonGlobe.com, "Horoscope," 26 June 2018 This data reinforces a trend that Pew has been observing for the past few years, which has seen young women take a sharp turn to the left. Li Zhou, Vox, "Republicans have a millennial women problem," 20 June 2018 The public is welcome to attend and observe the meetings. Jaimy Jones, Houston Chronicle, "Clear Creek ISD committee considers slew of campus safety measures," 15 June 2018

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

13 May 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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