• synonyms


[uh b-zur-vuh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee]
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noun, plural ob·serv·a·to·ries.
  1. 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.
  2. an institution that controls or carries on the work of such a place.
  3. a place or structure that provides an extensive view; lookout.
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Origin of observatory

1670–80; < Latin observā(re) to observe + -tory2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for observatory


noun plural -ries
  1. an institution or building specially designed and equipped for observing meteorological and astronomical phenomena
  2. any building or structure providing an extensive view of its surroundings
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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

Word Origin and History for observatory


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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper