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

Other Words from watchful

watchfully \ ˈwäch-​fə-​lē How to pronounce watchful (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 The three-time champion got good medical reports after five-on-five scrimmages with former and potential NBA players and a portion of the coaching staff under the watchful eye of Dr. Rick Celebrini. Rusty Simmons, San Francisco Chronicle, 21 Nov. 2021 But amid their loss comes the magic that has made the Madrigal family flourish, with each possessing a remarkable gift under the watchful eye of matriarch Alma (María Cecilia Botero). Brian Lowry, CNN, 19 Nov. 2021 Fifty-six years ago this month, students at the all-girls Regina Caeli High School in Compton were learning to type under the watchful eye of their instructor, a nun from the Sisters of the Holy Family. Laura Blasey, Los Angeles Times, 18 Nov. 2021 Even a turncoat like Frank is determined too valuable to lose, so long as any future betrayals are suppressed by a watchful eye and plenty of ritual humiliation. Scott Tobias, Vulture, 14 Nov. 2021 People think about the office differently now — including the C.E.O.s who for so long kept a watchful eye on which workers were at their desks. New York Times, 12 Nov. 2021 When Israel captured the Old City from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan granted Muslim clerics continued religious authority under the watchful eye of Israeli security. Andrew Lawler, Time, 3 Nov. 2021 With epithelial atypia and mild cases of epithelial dysplasia, per the AOMP, doctors will take a more watchful waiting approach and suggest lifestyle changes (like quitting smoking). Lauren Krouse,, 21 Oct. 2021 The atmosphere was busy but watchful; shopkeepers were welcoming but cautious about speaking frankly; and public opinion was of two minds and two generations. Washington Post, 7 Oct. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near watchful

watch for


watchful waiting

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Last Updated

26 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Watchful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for watchful



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

More from Merriam-Webster on watchful

Nglish: Translation of watchful for Spanish Speakers


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