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[woch] /wɒtʃ/
verb (used without object)
to be alertly on the lookout, look attentively, or observe, as to see what comes, is done, or happens:
to watch while an experiment is performed.
to look or wait attentively and expectantly (usually followed by for):
to watch for a signal; to watch for an opportunity.
to be careful or cautious:
Watch when you cross the street.
to keep awake, especially for a purpose; remain vigilant, as for protection or safekeeping:
to watch with a sick person.
to keep vigil, as for devotional purposes.
to keep guard:
She was assigned to watch at the door.
verb (used with object)
to keep under attentive view or observation, as in order to see or learn something; view attentively or with interest:
to watch a play; to watch a football game.
to contemplate or regard mentally:
to watch his progress.
to look or wait attentively and expectantly for:
to watch one's opportunity.
to guard, tend, or oversee, especially for protection or safekeeping:
to watch the baby.
close, continuous observation for the purpose of seeing or discovering something:
Their watch for the birds was unrewarding.
vigilant guard, as for protection or restraint:
to keep watch for prowlers.
a keeping awake for some special purpose:
a watch beside a sickbed.
a period of time for watching or keeping guard:
to stand the first watch.
a small, portable timepiece, as a wrist watch or pocket watch.
a chronometer.
  1. a period of time, usually four hours, during which one part of a ship's crew is on duty, taking turns with another part.
  2. the officers and crew who attend to the working of a ship for an allotted period of time.
one of the periods, usually three or four, into which the night was divided in ancient times, as by the Greeks or Hebrews:
the fourth watch of the night.
a person or group that watches, as a lookout, guard, or sentinel:
A watch was posted at sunset.
Also called storm watch. Meteorology. an announcement from the U.S. National Weather Service alerting the public that dangerous weather conditions are a possibility and that vigilance and precautionary preparations are advised:
hurricane watch, tornado watch.
Compare advisory (def 5), warning (def 3).
a flock of nightingales.
Verb phrases
watch out, to be on one's guard; be cautious:
Watch out for cars when you cross the road.
watch over, to guard for protection or safekeeping:
She watched over us like a mother hen over her brood.
on the watch, vigilant; alert:
The hunter was on the watch for game.
watch oneself,
  1. to be cautious.
  2. to practice discretion or self-restraint.
Origin of watch
before 900; 1580-90 for def 15; (v.) Middle English wacchen, Old English wæccan, doublet of wacian to be awake (see wake1); (noun) Middle English wacche, Old English wæcce, derivative of wæccan
Related forms
unwatched, adjective
unwatching, adjective
well-watched, adjective
1. Watch, look, see imply being aware of things around one by perceiving them through the eyes. To watch is to be a spectator, to look on or observe, or to fix the attention upon during passage of time: to watch while a procession passes. To look is to direct the gaze with the intention of seeing, to use the eyesight with attention: to look for violets in the spring; to look at articles displayed for sale. To see is to perceive with the eyes, to obtain a visual impression, with or without fixing the attention: animals able to see in the dark. 9. await. 10. protect. 11. inspection, attention. 12. vigil. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for unwatched
Historical Examples
  • To move, speak and breathe,—go out and come in unwatched, and free from danger!

    Uncle Tom's Cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • To be unwatched, to be free, to be little and young, if that pleased one!

    The Madigans Miriam Michelson
  • So I tell Vauquier she can go away, and I leave her unwatched.

    At the Villa Rose A. E. W. Mason
  • Think of the long, unwatched coast in Gazaland and Tongaland.

    Prester John John Buchan
  • Do not think you have been unwatched during the years you have been absent from us.

  • Into this I receded every now and then, alone and unwatched.

    Willing to Die Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
  • The other three sides of the guardhouse appeared to be unwatched.

    The Mucker Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Indeed, it was almost as though I were left alone and unwatched of set purpose.

    The Virgin of the Sun H. R. Haggard
  • If he could help it he wouldn't leave me for an hour unwatched; nor would he let me lift a hand.

    The High Heart Basil King
  • A glance up and down assured him that the house was unwatched.

    The Black Box E. Phillips Oppenheim
British Dictionary definitions for unwatched


(of an automatic device, such as a beacon) not manned


to look at or observe closely or attentively
(intransitive) foll by for. to wait attentively or expectantly
to guard or tend (something) closely or carefully
(intransitive) to keep vigil
(transitive) to maintain an interest in: to watch the progress of a child at school
watch it!, be careful! look out!
  1. a small portable timepiece, usually worn strapped to the wrist (a wristwatch) or in a waistcoat pocket
  2. (as modifier): a watch spring
the act or an instance of watching
a period of vigil, esp during the night
(formerly) one of a set of periods of any of various lengths into which the night was divided
  1. any of the usually four-hour periods beginning at midnight and again at noon during which part of a ship's crew are on duty
  2. those officers and crew on duty during a specified watch
the period during which a guard is on duty
(formerly) a watchman or band of watchmen
on the watch, on the lookout; alert
See also watch out
Word Origin
Old English wæccan (vb), wæcce (n); related to wake1
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 unwatched



Old English wæcce "a watching," from wæccan (see watch (v.)). Sense of "sentinel" is recorded from c.1300; that of "person or group officially patroling a town (especially at night) to keep order, etc." is first recorded 1530s. Meaning "period of time in which a division of a ship's crew remains on deck" is from 1580s. Sense of "period into which a night was divided in ancient times" translates Latin vigilia, Greek phylake, Hebrew ashmoreth.

The Hebrews divided the night into three watches, the Greeks usually into four (sometimes five), the Romans (followed by the Jews in New Testament times) into four. [OED]
The meaning "small timepiece" is from 1580s, developing from that of "a clock to wake up sleepers" (mid-15c.).



Old English wæccan "keep watch, be awake," from Proto-Germanic *wakojan; essentially the same word as Old English wacian "be or remain awake" (see wake (v.)); perhaps a Northumbrian form. Meaning "be vigilant" is from c.1200. That of "to guard (someone or some place), stand guard" is late 14c. Sense of "to observe, keep under observance" is mid-15c. Related: Watched; watching.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for unwatched


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with unwatched
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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