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 The illusion may also be the classic case of overconfidence frequently observed in behavioral finance. Michael Taylor, ExpressNews.com, "Taylor: Is financial literacy a bad thing?," 6 Dec. 2019 The Copernicus system of Earth-observing Sentinel satellites also got a lot of love. Erik Stokstad, Science | AAAS, "Space budget boost puts Europe in lead to monitor carbon from space," 5 Dec. 2019 And so while most scenes are precisely shot and composed, observing Yoav from a thoughtful remove, at certain points, the movie suddenly leaps into a handheld frenzy, as though trying to approximate his point of view. Justin Chang, chicagotribune.com, "‘Synonyms’ at Gene Siskel Film Center: When in France, do as the Israeli commandos-turned-nude Parisian models do," 5 Dec. 2019 That’s when the officer observed the man driving the Chevy. John Benson, cleveland, "Weaving drunk driver arrested leaving fundraiser: North Royalton Police Blotter," 4 Dec. 2019 The officer reportedly observed a glass marijuana pipe on the passenger front seat during the stop, and a search yielded THC vaping cartridges, a pipe and an empty package of THC gummies, police said. Jennifer James, Houston Chronicle, "Multiple vehicle burglaries reported on Friendswood street," 4 Dec. 2019 The four new papers report what these instruments observed during the PSP’s first two perihelion passes, which occurred in November 2018 and April 2019. Mike Wall, Scientific American, "NASA’s Sun-Kissing Parker Solar Probe Lifts the Veil on Our Closest Star," 4 Dec. 2019 The initiative led Parks to meet with a number of neuroscientists and observe their research on consciousness. Meghan O’gieblyn, The New Yorker, "Do We Have Minds of Our Own?," 4 Dec. 2019 Eric Post has observed seasons at the same location on the West Greenland tundra for 26 years. Cheryl Katz, National Geographic, "Warming at the poles will soon be felt globally in rising seas, extreme weather," 4 Dec. 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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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

9 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Observe.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/observing. Accessed 15 December 2019.

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on observe

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for observe

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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