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

Definition of onlooker

: one that looks on especially : a passive spectator

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web In one video from Denver, an officer leaving a seemingly peaceful scene shot a pepper ball directly into the camera phone of an onlooker. Jake Seiner, The Christian Science Monitor, "Black Lives Matter movement: A case for camera phones?," 17 June 2020 Police actions that strike an onlooker as inappropriate may actually be within a department’s rules. Andrew Ford, ProPublica, "I Cover Cops as an Investigative Reporter. Here Are Five Ways You Can Start Holding Your Department Accountable.," 4 June 2020 The station reports that an onlooker said people at the scene weren't protesting and were just ignoring the city's curfew. CBS News, "Man shot and killed by police as protests went on in Louisville," 1 June 2020 Oklahoma County sheriff’s deputies stationed outside a jail in Oklahoma City took a knee Sunday in solidarity with those protesting the death of George Floyd, evoking applause from a large crowd of onlookers. Fox News, "Oklahoma deputies take a knee in solidarity, hug protesters demanding justice for George Floyd," 2 June 2020 Hundreds of onlookers abandoned their places around the Confederate monument and swarmed. Kyle Whitmire, al, "When a Confederate monument wouldn’t fall, rioters turned on Birmingham," 1 June 2020 One happy senior sprayed Silly String out the window to the delight of onlookers. Beth Mlady, cleveland, "Senior send-off parade honors Berea-Midpark High School graduates (photos)," 22 May 2020 The annual event typically announces its starting location in advance but not the route of the ride, to prevent crowds of onlookers. oregonlive, "Naked Bike Ride cancels Portland gathering for 2020," 5 May 2020 The onlooker also said the scuffle left blood splattered on the fighters' clothing. Benjamin Vanhoose,, "Brawl Aboard Spirit Airlines Flight Forces Emergency Landing: 'We Were in Shock'," 4 May 2020

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.

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First Known Use of onlooker

1606, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for onlooker

Time Traveler

The first known use of onlooker was in 1606

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Statistics for onlooker

Last Updated

24 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Onlooker.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for onlooker


How to pronounce onlooker (audio)

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

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