\ 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 plural the 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


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.


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

Even the most seemingly benign perk, like free healthy lunches, can be subtly invasive—not only enabling employers to watch what employees eat, but also reinforcing the boss’s mandate to keep an eye on them generally. Lena Solow, The New Republic, "The Scourge of Worker Wellness Programs," 2 Sep. 2019 Wes and Kindra Hemingway watched the procession from the shade of a golf cart. Vincent T. Davis,, "Hundreds attend Bandera Labor Day Parade," 31 Aug. 2019 Our employers carefully watch all of our communications. Jonathan Handel, The Hollywood Reporter, ""We Have a Lot of Work Ahead": SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris on Next Steps After Election Win (Q&A)," 30 Aug. 2019 The boats that take tourists to watch sharks hunt seals at Seal Island, in the middle of False Bay, have not recorded sightings either. Linda Nordling, Science | AAAS, "Great white sharks have suddenly disappeared from one of their favorite hangouts," 30 Aug. 2019 Clougherty watched as his defense made two important fourth-quarter stands in a scoreless second half. Andrew J. Campa, Glendale News-Press, "St. Francis football relies on defense to notch win over Mira Costa," 30 Aug. 2019 Me and the guys would sit around and watch the college football games. Jeff Seidel, Detroit Free Press, "MSU player's dad lived secret life as drug dealer. Now he cheers for son from prison," 29 Aug. 2019 There is a way to reprogram it (watch this video), but unfortunately, these directions were omitted from the user manual. Andrew Skurka, Outside Online, "Review: Black Diamond Iota Headlamp," 29 Aug. 2019 In the pass game, watch WR Gabriel Davis, who led the team in 2018 with 53 grabs for 815 receiving yards. Joe Williams, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Florida A&M Rattlers at UCF Golden Knights odds, picks and best bets," 29 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Talley Park’s cameras, installed by a neighborhood watch group, have not worked for several years, police told TV station KXTV. Bay Area News Group, The Mercury News, "Arrest made in fatal stabbing of grandfather walking in Tracy park," 3 Sep. 2019 On Tuesday, attention turns to U.S. mainland impacts, with hurricane warnings and watches hoisted from the Florida coastline northward to South Carolina. Andrew Freedman, Anchorage Daily News, "Dorian starts inching north, closer to Florida, Georgia and Carolinas," 3 Sep. 2019 Meanwhile in the United States, the National Hurricane Center extended watches and warnings across the Florida and Georgia coasts. Washington Post, "Dorian triggers massive flooding in Bahamas; at least 5 dead," 3 Sep. 2019 Now our smartphones and watches can measure practically any piece of biometric data by relying on small sensors inside. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "The World's Smallest Accelerometer Could Transform Wearables," 3 Sep. 2019 Storm surge warnings are in place from Lantana, Florida to Altamaha Sound, Georgia, with storm surge watch north of Deerfield Beach, Florida to south of Lantana, Florida and Altamaha Sound, Georgia to South Santee River, South Carolina. Leada Gore |, al, "Hurricane Dorian: Latest photos, videos show massive damage in Bahamas," 3 Sep. 2019 The maps below, updated every 10 minutes, show current watches and warnings. Aric Chokey,, "Map: Are you in a watch or warning area for Hurricane Dorian?," 3 Sep. 2019 Officials issued formal hurricane warning Sunday afternoon for the Florida coast from near Titusville south to Jupiter, and a storm surge warning south to Lantana, with watches posted for areas to either side. New York Times, "Along Hurricane Dorian’s Tortured Path, Millions Are United in Fear," 2 Sep. 2019 Meanwhile in the United States, the National Hurricane Center extended watches and warnings across the Florida and Georgia coasts. Dánica Coto, Twin Cities, "Dorian triggers massive flooding in Bahamas; at least 5 dead," 2 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

5 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for watch

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

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More Definitions for watch



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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More from Merriam-Webster on watch

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for watch

Spanish Central: Translation of watch

Nglish: Translation of watch for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of watch for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about watch

Comments on watch

What made you want to look up watch? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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