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[uh b-zurv] /əbˈzɜrv/
verb (used with object), observed, observing.
to see, watch, perceive, or notice:
He observed the passersby in the street.
to regard with attention, especially so as to see or learn something:
I want you to observe her reaction to the judge's question.
to watch, view, or note for a scientific, official, or other special purpose:
to observe an eclipse.
to state by way of comment; remark:
He observed frequently that clerks were not as courteous as they used to be.
to keep or maintain in one's action, conduct, etc.:
You must observe quiet.
to obey, comply with, or conform to:
to observe laws.
to show regard for by some appropriate procedure, ceremony, etc.:
to observe Palm Sunday.
to perform duly or solemnize (ceremonies, rites, etc.).
to note or inspect closely for an omen or sign of future events.
verb (used without object), observed, observing.
to notice.
to act as an observer.
to remark or comment (usually followed by on or upon).
Origin of observe
1350-1400; Middle English observen < Middle French observer < Latin observāre to watch, regard, attend to, equivalent to ob- ob- + servāre to keep, save, pay heed to
Related forms
[uh b-zur-vid-lee] /əbˈzɜr vɪd li/ (Show IPA),
observingly, adverb
nonobserving, adjective
nonobservingly, adverb
preobserve, verb (used with object), preobserved, preobserving.
quasi-observed, adjective
reobserve, verb, reobserved, reobserving.
self-observed, adjective
unobserved, adjective
unobserving, adjective
well-observed, adjective
2. note. Observe, witness imply paying strict attention to what one sees or perceives. Both are “continuative” in action. To observe is to mark or be attentive to something seen, heard, etc.; to consider carefully; to watch steadily: to observe the behavior of birds, a person's pronunciation. To witness, formerly to be present when something was happening, has added the idea of having observed with sufficient care to be able to give an account as evidence: to witness an accident. 4. mention, say. 6. follow, fulfill. 7. celebrate, keep.
1–3, 6–8. ignore. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for observed
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She had observed that Geta and Milza appeared much confused when she spoke to them.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • This festival, in honour of Dionysus, was observed with great splendour.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • Ceremonies at Eleusis, in honour of Demeter, observed with great secrecy.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • But to his relief he observed no change in the demeanor of his fellow-townsmen.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • This one, at the rate I have observed, will not last so long.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
British Dictionary definitions for observed


(transitive; may take a clause as object) to see; perceive; notice: we have observed that you steal
(when transitive, may take a clause as object) to watch (something) carefully; pay attention to (something)
to make observations of (something), esp scientific ones
when intr, usually foll by on or upon; when tr, may take a clause as object. to make a comment or remark: the speaker observed that times had changed
(transitive) to abide by, keep, or follow (a custom, tradition, law, holiday, etc)
Derived Forms
observable, adjective
observableness, observability, noun
observably, adverb
Word Origin
C14: via Old French from Latin observāre, from ob- to + servāre to watch
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 observed



late 14c., "to hold to" (a manner of life or course of conduct), from Old French observer, osserver "to observe, watch over, follow" (10c.), from Latin observare "watch over, note, heed, look to, attend to, guard, regard, comply with," from ob "over" (see ob-) + servare "to watch, keep safe," from PIE root *ser- "to protect." Meaning "to attend to in practice, to keep, follow" is attested from late 14c. Sense of "watch, perceive, notice" is 1560s, via notion of "see and note omens." Meaning "to say by way of remark" is from c.1600. Related: Observed; observing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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