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[woch-fuh l] /ˈwɒtʃ fəl/
vigilant or alert; closely observant:
The sentry remained watchful throughout the night.
Archaic. wakeful.
Origin of watchful
First recorded in 1540-50; watch + -ful
Related forms
watchfully, adverb
watchfulness, noun
self-watchfulness, noun
unwatchful, adjective
unwatchfully, adverb
unwatchfulness, noun
1. attentive, heedful, careful, circumspect, cautious, wary.
Synonym Study
1. See alert. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for watchfulness
Historical Examples
  • With some dryness, she preached energy, watchfulness, and a hopeful mind.

    The Coryston Family Mrs. Humphry Ward
  • It was the hush of portent, the hush of watchfulness, the hush of a threatening tension.

    The Law-Breakers Ridgwell Cullum
  • His large eyes were full of a sort of cloudy rebuke and watchfulness.

    A Spirit in Prison Robert Hichens
  • And thus she opposed to the mother's new watchfulness the watchfulness of the child.

    A Spirit in Prison Robert Hichens
  • The watchfulness seemed to have gone from his eyes, his muscles to have relaxed.

  • In the former case, all was zeal, activity, and watchfulness.

  • The only way will be to hide so as to elude his watchfulness.

    The Memoires of Casanova, Complete Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
  • Did you observe the watchfulness of Miss Loring on the lawn?

    The Bondwoman Marah Ellis Ryan
  • Nan returned unseen, and disappeared despite his watchfulness.

    Nan of Music Mountain Frank H. Spearman
  • It was too cold, and there was need for watchfulness, and the plain was too unhappy—the plain was too unhappy.

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
British Dictionary definitions for watchfulness


vigilant or alert
(archaic) not sleeping
Derived Forms
watchfully, adverb
watchfulness, noun
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 watchfulness



c.1500, waccheful, from watch (v.) + -ful. Related: Watchfulness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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