\ ˈwäch How to pronounce watch (audio) , ˈwȯch\
watched; watching; watches

Definition of watch

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to keep vigil as a devotional exercise
b : to be awake during the night
2a : to be attentive or vigilant
b : to keep guard
3a : to keep someone or something under close observation
b : to observe as a spectator the country watched as stocks fell sharply
4 : to be expectant : wait watch for the signal

transitive verb

1 : to keep under guard
2a : to observe closely in order to check on action or change being watched by the police
b : to look at : observe sat and watched the crowd
c : to look on at watch television watch a ball game
3a : to take care of : tend
b : to be careful of watches his diet
4 : to be on the alert for : bide watched her opportunity
watch it
: look out : be careful watch it when you handle the glassware
watch one's step
: to proceed with extreme care : act or talk warily
watch over
: to have charge of : superintend



Definition of watch (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : the act of keeping awake to guard, protect, or attend
b obsolete : the state of being wakeful
c : a wake over a dead body
d : a state of alert and continuous attention
e : close observation : surveillance
f : a notice or bulletin that alerts the public to the possibility of severe weather conditions occurring in the near future a winter storm watch
2a : any of the definite divisions of the night made by ancient peoples
b : one of the indeterminate intervals marking the passage of night usually used in pluralthe silent watches of the night
b archaic : the office or function of a sentinel or guard
4a : a body of soldiers or sentinels making up a guard
b : a watchman or body of watchmen formerly assigned to patrol the streets of a town at night, announce the hours, and act as police
5a(1) : a portion of time during which a part of a ship's company is on duty
(2) : the part of a ship's company required to be on duty during a particular watch
(3) : a sailor's assigned duty period
b : a period of duty : shift
c : a term as holder especially of an overseeing or managerial office the business grew on her watch
6 : a portable timepiece designed to be worn (as on the wrist) or carried in the pocket — compare clock

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Examples of watch in a Sentence

Verb They have a rookie on the team who is fun to watch. I fell asleep watching television. What movie are you watching? “Mom, watch me do a cartwheel!” She sat and watched the children play. “Would you like to play, too?” “No, I'll just watch.” Just sit back and watch. Keep watching to see what happens next. “What happens next?” “Watch and see.” People are watching this presidential race very carefully. Noun He glanced at his watch. When you're driving in winter you should always be on the watch for ice on the roads.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Organized by Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do, the celebration is a tradition where families and friends come together, eat mooncake and watch the moon at its largest and brightest point of the year. Daily Pilot, "Moon Festival celebration lights up Fountain Valley," 16 Sep. 2019 To people watching from the ground, a micromoon looks around 14 percent smaller than a typical full moon, according to the Time and Date. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "A Rare Harvest ‘Micromoon’ Will Light Up the Sky on Friday the 13th," 11 Sep. 2019 Elsewhere in the Atlantic The hurricane center continued to watch two other systems on Tuesday. Leigh Morgan, al, "Hurricane Humberto path update: Category 2 storm may strengthen more as it tracks near Bermuda," 17 Sep. 2019 Scientists on routine monitoring cruises and beach surveys are watching for early warning signs of ecological shifts. Warren Cornwall, Science | AAAS, "Is ‘The Blob’ back? New marine heat wave threatens Pacific," 17 Sep. 2019 Trump watches the financial markets closely, if not obsessively. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "Trump’s Awful Middle East Policies Are Coming Back to Haunt Him," 17 Sep. 2019 In the meantime, Recktenwald could only watch and rehab. David J. Kim, The Courier-Journal, "QB Zach Recktenwald is leading Manual again after suffering scary back injury," 16 Sep. 2019 All is dominated — some might say watched over — by El Morro, the massive plug of a long-extinct volcano, rising from the ocean. Georgeanne Brennan, The Mercury News, "Weekend getaway: Morro Bay adventures, from ocean to table," 15 Sep. 2019 Unlike past debates, this one had no time set aside at the end for the candidates to make closing remarks directed at the audience in the hall, watching on TV and following online. Rebecca Morin, USA TODAY, "Democratic debate: Who were the winners and losers," 13 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Norfolk is still one of the safest corners of England, but violence has risen steeply under the watch of Tory governments and the county’s mainly Tory MPS. The Economist, "Tories promise more police—having earlier cut their number," 7 Nov. 2019 And the tough guy making the sign of the cross during one of our dips in the air that late night and early morning in the severe-thunderstorm-watch high winds seemed like an exclamation mark on this point. Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review, "Seeing the Light of Christ in the Midst of all the Noise — and Evil," 4 Nov. 2019 Consider this selection for the best watches under $200 that don’t miss the mark on style or function. Vogue, "11 Timeless Watches for Under $200 to Mark the End of Daylight Saving," 3 Nov. 2019 Now, the dominant neighborhood watch is no longer a physical group of people. Hanna Kozlowska, Quartz, "Are neighborhood watch apps making us safer?," 29 Oct. 2019 As of Tuesday night, winter storm watches were in place for the Divide and foothills, where the National Weather Service was forecasting 4 to 8 inches of snow, with localized amounts closer to a foot. Chris Bianchi, The Denver Post, "Colorado weather: When, where and how much snow you can expect Wednesday-Thursday," 22 Oct. 2019 The watch stayed within the family until 1949 and Post acquired it in 1953. Stellene Volandes, Town & Country, "How Catherine the Great Used Her Magnificent Jewels to Project Power," 20 Oct. 2019 As a result, a tropical storm watch has been issued for Puerto Rico as well as both the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. Brett Clarkson,, "Tropical Storm Karen aims for Puerto Rico while rainstorms off Africa could become Lorenzo today," 22 Sep. 2019 Forecasters expect the storm to stay offshore of Florida’s eastern coast, so a tropical storm watch is no longer in effect for the state., "MIAMI — A tropical depression near the Bahamas has strengthened into Tropical Storm Humberto.," 15 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'watch.' 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 watch


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for watch


Middle English wacchen, from Old English wæccan — more at wake

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Statistics for watch

Last Updated

31 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for watch

The first known use of watch was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for watch


How to pronounce watch (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of watch

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to look at (someone or something) for an amount of time and pay attention to what is happening
: to give your attention to (a situation, an event, etc.)
: to care for (someone or something) for a period of time in order to make sure that nothing bad or unwanted happens



English Language Learners Definition of watch (Entry 2 of 2)

: a device that shows what time it is and that you wear on your wrist or carry in a pocket
: the act of giving your attention to someone or something especially in order to make sure that nothing bad or unwanted happens
: the act of looking for someone or something that you expect to see : the act of regularly checking to see if someone has arrived or if something has appeared or happened


\ ˈwäch How to pronounce watch (audio) \
watched; watching

Kids Definition of watch

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to keep in view Did you watch the game?
2 : to be on the lookout I'm watching for a signal.
3 : to take care of : tend Watch the house until I get back.
4 : to be careful of Watch your step.
5 : to keep guard Watch outside the door.
6 : to stay awake She watched at the sick child's bedside.
watch out
: to be aware of and ready for Remember to watch out for broken glass.

Other Words from watch

watcher noun



Kids Definition of watch (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a small timepiece worn on the wrist or carried
2 : close observation
4 : the time during which someone is on duty to guard or be on the lookout
5 : an act of keeping awake to guard or protect

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