on·​look·​er | \ ˈȯn-ˌlu̇-kər How to pronounce onlooker (audio) , ˈän-\

Definition of onlooker

: one that looks on especially : a passive spectator

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from onlooker

onlooking \ ˈȯn-​ˌlu̇-​kiŋ How to pronounce onlooking (audio) , ˈän-​ \ adjective

Examples of onlooker in a Sentence

Curious onlookers watched the ceremony. An onlooker noticed the disturbance. A crowd of onlookers gathered at the fire.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

That enthusiasm hasn’t always carried over to the NBA, but the onlookers at today’s press conference loved it. Julia Alexander, The Verge, "Steve Ballmer is still very hyped," 24 July 2019 The element that truly made the show great was the actors' constant energy and their ability to immerse the onlookers in the action through things like arm waving or giving them a beat to clap. Brooke Coughlan,, "Cappies reviews for 'Godspell' by Roger Bacon High School," 22 July 2019 Former President Johnson, center, with his wife, Lady Bird, left, and Vice President Spiro Agnew, right, were among the onlookers that NASA had invited to witness the start of the moon mission. David Shribman, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column One: 50 years after Apollo 11, the moon’s allure still resonates," 11 July 2019 Then, the onlookers begin to knock on the windows of the home to try and dissuade the bears, to no avail. Perri Ormont Blumberg, Southern Living, "You've Got to Watch This Hilarious Video of a Bear and Its Cub Trespassing a Family's Car in Gatlinburg," 10 July 2019 The video showed security quickly moving in to try and remove the onlooker., "Women's World Cup: Reason Behind England vs USA 'Spygate' Revealed After Media Create False Scandal," 2 July 2019 While the aircraft was lost to the naked eye of the onlookers, IMS released onboard footage from that flight, providing a unique perspective of the stunt. Robert General, Indianapolis Star, "Check out the onboard footage from pilot's cockpit during Indy 500 pre-race flyover," 4 June 2019 The onlookers are just here, awaiting a small chance at witnessing history. David Nakamura, Washington Post, "In Singapore, a long wait, and then a car carrying a dictator," 10 June 2018 Clinging to improvised rafts, constructed in a death battle from floating boards and timbers, were agonized men, women and children, their heart-rending shrieks for help striking horror to the breasts of the onlookers., "June 1, 1889: Johnstown flood," 1 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'onlooker.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of onlooker

1606, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about onlooker

Dictionary Entries near onlooker



on loan



only child

only fair

Statistics for onlooker

Last Updated

14 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for onlooker

The first known use of onlooker was in 1606

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for onlooker



English Language Learners Definition of onlooker

: a person who watches an activity or event without being involved in it


on·​look·​er | \ ˈȯn-ˌlu̇-kər How to pronounce onlooker (audio) , ˈän-\

Kids Definition of onlooker

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on onlooker

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with onlooker

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for onlooker

Spanish Central: Translation of onlooker

Nglish: Translation of onlooker for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of onlooker for Arabic Speakers

Comments on onlooker

What made you want to look up onlooker? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a wrong name or inappropriate designation

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!