View synonyms for observe


[ uhb-zurv ]

verb (used with object)

, ob·served, ob·serv·ing.
  1. to see, watch, perceive, or notice:

    He observed the passersby in the street.

    Antonyms: ignore

  2. to regard with attention, especially so as to see or learn something:

    I want you to observe her reaction to the judge's question.

    Synonyms: note

    Antonyms: ignore

  3. to watch, view, or note for a scientific, official, or other special purpose:

    to observe an eclipse.

    Antonyms: ignore

  4. to state by way of comment; remark:

    He observed frequently that clerks were not as courteous as they used to be.

    Synonyms: say, mention

  5. to keep or maintain in one's action, conduct, etc.:

    You must observe quiet.

  6. to obey, comply with, or conform to:

    to observe laws.

    Synonyms: fulfill, follow

    Antonyms: ignore

  7. to show regard for by some appropriate procedure, ceremony, etc.:

    to observe Palm Sunday.

    Synonyms: keep, celebrate

    Antonyms: ignore

  8. to perform duly or solemnize (ceremonies, rites, etc.).

    Antonyms: ignore

  9. to note or inspect closely for an omen or sign of future events.

verb (used without object)

, ob·served, ob·serv·ing.
  1. to notice.
  2. to act as an observer.
  3. to remark or comment (usually followed by on or upon ).


/ əbˈzɜːv /


  1. tr; may take a clause as object to see; perceive; notice

    we have observed that you steal

  2. when tr, may take a clause as object to watch (something) carefully; pay attention to (something)
  3. to make observations of (something), esp scientific ones
  4. whenintr, 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

  5. tr to abide by, keep, or follow (a custom, tradition, law, holiday, etc)

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Derived Forms

  • obˈservably, adverb
  • obˈservable, adjective
  • obˈservableness, noun

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Other Words From

  • ob·serv·ed·ly [uh, b-, zur, -vid-lee], adverb
  • ob·serving·ly adverb
  • nonob·serving adjective
  • nonob·serving·ly adverb
  • preob·serve verb (used with object) preobserved preobserving
  • quasi-ob·served adjective
  • reob·serve verb reobserved reobserving
  • self-ob·served adjective
  • unob·served adjective
  • unob·serving adjective
  • well-ob·served adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of observe1

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English observen, from Middle French observer, from Latin observāre “to watch, regard, attend to,” equivalent to ob- ob- + servāre “to keep, save, pay heed to”

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Word History and Origins

Origin of observe1

C14: via Old French from Latin observāre, from ob- to + servāre to watch

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Synonym Study

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.

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Example Sentences

We paddled out to where a knot of other kayakers were observing a humpback and her calf, which occasionally poked its head above water.

Five telescopes in space observed the flare on April 15, 2020.

After observing the sky from Palomar Observatory in California for 17 months, De and colleagues detected 12 nova explosions.

The officer statement recalls Springsteen “visibly swaying back and forth” when the officer observed his eyes, and taking “45 total steps instead of the instructed 18” during what’s known as a walk and turn test.

For many, providing seed and observing wild birds represents a rare pleasure during the pandemic.

Photos: Fury at the Ferguson Decision I had yet to be born to observe the events of Bloody Sunday on March 7, 1965.

Gays observe hetero-excitement over the lumbersexual with a weary eyeroll.

Instead, astronomers hope to observe planet formation in all its stages, each marking a phase in star and planet birth.

Some supporters keep pace, and others trail behind walking, there to observe Booker in the flesh more than for the cardio.

Mitchell said the cameras give administrators the ability to observe teachers in action and offer them tips and coaching.

Many so-called "humming tones" are given for practice, but in accepting them observe whether the foregoing principle is obeyed.

As the devil never wanted insinuators, I shall observe, that I learned a way how to make a man dream of what I pleased.

Yet I think if we observe closely we shall detect traces of a spontaneous impulse towards self-adornment.

The countess-dowager was not very adroit at spelling and composition, whether French or English, as you observe.

On his departure from the Alcazar, the warden thought it prudent to send a person to observe his movements.