watch·​ful | \ ˈwäch-fəl How to pronounce watchful (audio) , ˈwȯch- \

Definition of watchful

1 archaic
a : not able or accustomed to sleep or rest : wakeful
b : causing sleeplessness
c : spent in wakefulness : sleepless
2 : carefully observant or attentive : being on the watch

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Other Words from watchful

watchfully \ ˈwäch-​fə-​lē How to pronounce watchfully (audio) , ˈwȯch-​ \ adverb
watchfulness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for watchful



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watchful, vigilant, wide-awake, alert mean being on the lookout especially for danger or opportunity. watchful is the least explicit term. the watchful eye of the department supervisor vigilant suggests intense, unremitting, wary watchfulness. eternally vigilant in the safeguarding of democracy wide-awake applies to watchfulness for opportunities and developments more often than dangers. wide-awake companies latched onto the new technology alert stresses readiness or promptness in meeting danger or in seizing opportunity. alert traders anticipated the stock market's slide

Examples of watchful in a Sentence

We need to be more watchful of our children. The hotel is being built under the watchful eye of its architect.
Recent Examples on the Web In a few short years, Kylie—under Kris’s watchful eye—has built a billion-dollar business and amassed an army of 157 million (and counting) Instagram followers by making everything and everyone around her appear irresistible to her fans. Harper's BAZAAR, "Kylie Jenner Is Having Her Cake and Eating It Too," 4 Feb. 2020 Always keep an eye on the waves, and be especially watchful of children and pets. oregonlive, "Sneaker wave alert in effect at Oregon coast through Sunday night," 26 Jan. 2020 Ultimately, the Legislature, currently controlled by Republicans, will need to approve the regulations and will be watchful of the economic impacts. Lee Bergquist, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "DNR pushes ahead with plans for stricter farming practices to fight nitrate pollution," 10 Dec. 2019 Laramie said there’s a difference between parents invading their children’s spaces and being watchful. Cassandra Jaramillo, Dallas News, "Here’s how tech companies are working with police to stop child predators online," 13 Aug. 2019 Even if you’re not distracted, be watchful of these behaviors in other motorists. Rebecca Renner, USA TODAY, "These 5 annoying driver behaviors are more dangerous than you think," 8 Aug. 2019 Powerboaters running those backwaters where blind curves and narrow waters increase the chances of sudden encounters with kayaks or even other powerboats should be particularly watchful. Shannon Tompkins,, "On the water, be safe and be nice, too," 20 July 2019 Amid the special counsel’s investigation of Russian election interference and possible collusion by the Trump campaign, Democratic lawmakers have been watchful for any sign the administration might be pulling its punches. Ian Talley, WSJ, "Mnuchin Defends Plan to Remove Russian Aluminum Giant From Sanctions Blacklist," 10 Jan. 2019 Fans often have to be watchful after a bad golf shot. Fox News, "'So much blood' after angry golfer's club flies into crowd," 19 Aug. 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for watchful

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The first known use of watchful was in the 15th century

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Statistics for watchful

Last Updated

15 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Watchful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for watchful


How to pronounce watchful (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of watchful

: always watching the actions of someone or something : paying careful attention to someone or something


watch·​ful | \ ˈwäch-fəl How to pronounce watchful (audio) \

Kids Definition of watchful

: attentive sense 1, vigilant The community was extraordinarily safe, each citizen watchful and protective of all children.— Lois Lowry, The Giver

Other Words from watchful

watchfully \ -​fə-​lē \ adverb
watchfulness noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on watchful

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for watchful

Spanish Central: Translation of watchful

Nglish: Translation of watchful for Spanish Speakers

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