on·​look·​er | \ˈȯn-ˌlu̇-kər, ˈän-\

Definition of onlooker 

: one that looks on especially : a passive spectator

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Other Words from onlooker

onlooking \ˈȯn-​ˌlu̇-​kiŋ, 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

Word of mouth has turned out a steady procession of onlookers. Laura Fenton, Curbed, "Black is the new black," 1 Aug. 2018 Less than an hour before their arrival, the grounds of the estate, which is owned by the National Trust, were closed to the public to keep nosy onlookers and the press away. Diana Pearl,, "Meghan Markle Arrives at Hotel with Mom and Says She's Feeling 'Wonderful' on Royal Wedding Eve," 18 May 2018 The lone flamingo showed up on Haulover Beach Saturday and despite a stormy Mother's Day, has continued to linger, drawing onlookers and delighting the internet. Jenny Staletovich, miamiherald, "Something besides nudists showed up at Haulover Beach: a rare flamingo | Miami Herald," 16 May 2018 Video on social media shows the train, which was traveling from the western state of Gujarat to Odisha state in the east, speeding past stations as onlookers and passengers scream helplessly. Huizhong Wu, CNN, "Runaway train carrying 1,000 passengers rolls for miles in India," 9 Apr. 2018 Pygmalion remained at the center, surrounded by Céphise, a rival for his affections; Cupid, the life-giving agent; assorted onlookers; and the statue herself, whom Cupid quickly energizes. James R. Oestreich, New York Times, "Review: Ahead of ‘My Fair Lady,’ Two Operatic Pygmalions," 26 Mar. 2018 Journalists and onlookers turned to look toward the first shots, then the rows of marchers broke as soldiers and civilians sought cover under sustained gunfire. Edmund Demarche, Fox News, "Iran warns US, Israel of 'devastating' response after deadly parade attack, report says," 24 Sep. 2018 Musk’s erratic behavior has been a point of concern for investors, board members, and onlookers for a while now. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Elon Musk’s week of pot smoking and wild emails, explained," 8 Sep. 2018 Catherine's various moments of concentration during the match gave onlookers the best shots of the newest addition to her accessory wardrobe. Carrie Goldberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Duchess of Cambridge Sported a Push Present from Prince William at Wimbledon," 16 July 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

4 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for onlooker

The first known use of onlooker was in 1606

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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, 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

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to enclose within walls

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