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

The problem with arguing over semantics is that by the end of what is usually overwrought dialogue, even the most sensible onlookers will walk away thinking, what a colossal waste of time this was for everyone involved. Michael Arceneaux,, "OP-ED: Here's Why We Shouldn't Cancel Cynthia Nixon," 25 May 2018 Some of the onlookers were indifferent and had nothing to say when asked to comment on the protest. Terrell Jermaine Starr, The Root, "Protesters Challenge NFL’s National Anthem Rule in Front of the Master’s House," 25 May 2018 Military parades arouse patriotic feelings in the onlooker. Joan Acocella, The New Yorker, "Kick Lines with an ex-Rockette," 4 June 2017 At least eight television trucks crowded the streets outside the municipal building, while photographers staked out positions, and the second-floor courtroom was packed to standing-room-only capacity with both media and onlookers. Jon Kamp, WSJ, "Kevin Spacey Appears in Nantucket Court Over Assault Allegations," 7 Jan. 2019 There was this tangible need for new Jenner content, something to either confirm or deny rumors that had been circulating for months, leaving the biggest stans and curious onlookers for answers. Julia Alexander, The Verge, "Kylie Jenner returned as online queen in 2018 after disappearing for nearly a year," 21 Dec. 2018 For many Tumblr users and onlookers, however, the simplest solution seems to be a return to the spirit that built Tumblr culture: When all else fails, make memes. Aja Romano, Vox, "Tumblr’s adult content ban is already harming the site’s vibrant community.," 5 Dec. 2018 Many Rams were able to break away from the throngs of onlookers and pretend media on the floor to return to their childhoods. Barry Wilner, The Seattle Times, "Media night more like a mosh pit and Mardi Gras," 29 Jan. 2019 His underlings, however, are obliged to give text to his impulses, and onlookers are obliged to try to make sense of the result. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "Detroit vs. Protectionism?," 4 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

13 Mar 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

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