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[uh b-zur-vuh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /əbˈzɜr vəˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/
noun, plural observatories.
a place or building equipped and used for making observations of astronomical, meteorological, or other natural phenomena, especially a place equipped with a powerful telescope for observing the planets and stars.
an institution that controls or carries on the work of such a place.
a place or structure that provides an extensive view; lookout.
Origin of observatory
1670-80; < Latin observā(re) to observe + -tory2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for observatory
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He glanced up at the clock—regulated electrically from the observatory—and scribbled the "filing time" at the bottom of the sheet.

    Ann Arbor Tales Karl Edwin Harriman
  • Mr King, who was at the observatory, ordered out the guard to receive the party.

    Captain Cook W.H.G. Kingston
  • Even at this day I do not know that any other observatory can show a circle eight feet in diameter graduated all round.

    Great Astronomers R. S. Ball
  • The observatory at Greenwich under the direction of an Apothecary!

    The Gentle Art of Making Enemies James McNeill Whistler
  • This wasnt a lovers bower; it was only a palestra, or an observatory.

    Nothing But the Truth Frederic S. Isham
British Dictionary definitions for observatory


/əbˈzɜːvətərɪ; -trɪ/
noun (pl) -ries
an institution or building specially designed and equipped for observing meteorological and astronomical phenomena
any building or structure providing an extensive view of its surroundings
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for observatory

"building for observing astronomical phenomena," 1670s (in reference to Greenwich), from French observatoire, from observer (v.); see observe.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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