verb ob·serve \əb-ˈzərv\

Definition of observe



  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to conform one's action or practice to (as a law, rite, or condition) :  comply with

  3. 2 :  to inspect or take note of as an augury, omen, or presage

  4. 3 :  to celebrate or solemnize (as a ceremony or festival) in a customary or accepted way

  5. 4 a :  to watch carefully especially with attention to details or behavior for the purpose of arriving at a judgment b :  to make a scientific observation on or of

  6. 5 :  to come to realize or know especially through consideration of noted facts

  7. 6 :  to utter as a remark

  8. intransitive verb
  9. 1 a :  to take notice b :  to make observations :  watch

  10. 2 :  remark, comment


play \-ˈzər-viŋ-lē\ adverb

Examples of observe in a sentence

  1. The class will be observing the movements of fish.

  2. The patient must be observed constantly.

  3. Children learn by observing their parents and others.

  4. The new teacher will give the lesson today and the principal will observe.

  5. We observed a large flock of birds heading north.

  6. He observed two children playing with marbles on the street corner.

  7. She observed that every man in the room had removed his hat.

  8. Few cases of the disease have been observed in humans.

Origin and Etymology of 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

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of 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>.

keep, retain, detain, withhold, reserve mean to hold in one's possession or under one's control. keep may suggest a holding securely in one's possession, custody, or control <keep this while I'm gone>. retain implies continued keeping, especially against threatened seizure or forced loss <managed to retain their dignity even in poverty>. detain suggests a delay in letting go <detained them for questioning>. withhold implies restraint in letting go or a refusal to let go <withheld information from the authorities>. reserve suggests a keeping in store for future use <reserve some of your energy for the last mile>.

OBSERVE Defined for English Language Learners


verb ob·serve \əb-ˈzərv\

Definition of observe for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids


verb ob·serve \əb-ˈzərv\

Definition of observe for Students



  1. 1 :  to watch carefully <They observed her behavior.>

  2. 2 :  to act in agreement with :  obey <Remember to observe the law.>

  3. 3 :  celebrate 1 <Next Friday we will observe a religious holiday.>

  4. 4 :  2remark, say <“Those are some big ears he's got, too,” observed his uncle Alfred. — Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux>



Seen and Heard

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of, relating to, or resembling a fox

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