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

While many onlookers believe the appearance was a stunt, and the Flat Earth Society seemingly disowned Paul’s involvement in the event, Paul’s deference to Mike, who apparently encouraged the YouTube star to attend the conference, is telling. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "Meet the babysitter who helps Logan Paul stay out of trouble on YouTube," 3 Dec. 2018 An onlooker recorded the incident that showed the man doing a back flip. Elizabeth Zwirz, Fox News, "Man accidentally shot by FBI agent's weapon said he believed it was an 'idiot' with 'a firecracker'," 2 Oct. 2018 Filin is designed to work at twilight and night time, creating fast pulses of bright light that dazzle and disorient onlookers. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Russian Navy Is Fitting Ships with Barf-Inducing Lights," 4 Feb. 2019 The sight of Kobach with what appeared to be a .50-caliber machine gun stunned some onlookers and sparked criticism on social media. Ian Cummings, kansascity, "'Dumb guy with a gun': Kansas officials blame hacker for tweet insulting Kobach," 3 June 2018 But onlookers paying close attention as rising runway stars Deirdre Fírinne and Rebecca Longendyke whipped around each turn of the runway caught an alluring glimpse at one of the British fashion house's most head-swiveling beauty looks to date. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Alexander McQueen Puts a Dramatic Twist on the Classic Ponytail at Paris Fashion Week," 5 Mar. 2019 In both cases, the average onlooker, confronted with only the offensive joke and none of the context, might be well within their rights to walk away confused or even angry. Aja Romano, Vox, "Why the Kevin Hart Oscars backlash is different from other recent public shamings," 5 Jan. 2019 At one point, an NYPD officer stands up and points a stun-gun at onlookers, the video shows. Zolan Kanno-youngs, WSJ, "Judge Orders Release of Mother Whose Infant Son Was Grabbed by Officers," 11 Dec. 2018 For some onlookers, the initial suicide framing of it all nevertheless reeks of yet another ploy by Erakat to get views on YouTube. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "A controversial YouTuber’s suicidal claims have fans questioning his motives," 24 Sep. 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.

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First Known Use of onlooker

1606, in the meaning defined above

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Dictionary Entries near onlooker



on loan



only child

only fair

Statistics for onlooker

Last Updated

8 May 2019

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Time Traveler for onlooker

The first known use of onlooker was in 1606

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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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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 sum of money that is sent as a payment

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