verb (used with object), ob·served, ob·serv·ing.

verb (used without object), ob·served, ob·serv·ing.

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 formsob·serv·ed·ly [uhb-zur-vid-lee] /əbˈzɜr vɪd li/, adverbob·serv·ing·ly, adverbnon·ob·serv·ing, adjectivenon·ob·serv·ing·ly, adverbpre·ob·serve, verb (used with object), pre·ob·served, pre·ob·serv·ing.qua·si-ob·served, adjectivere·ob·serve, verb, re·ob·served, re·ob·serv·ing.self-ob·served, adjectiveun·ob·served, adjectiveun·ob·serv·ing, adjectivewell-ob·served, adjective

Synonyms for observe

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.

Antonyms for observe

1–3, 6–8. ignore.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for observe

Contemporary Examples of observe

Historical Examples of observe

  • Milza was the first to observe that her absence was unusually protracted.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • He joyed to observe that these men of incredible millions had no hauteur.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • I observe the workings of unemotional law and sometimes record them.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • When you see them, you will observe how he endeavours to hold me to this correspondence.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • Do you observe this red glow,—dusky, too, amid all the brightness?

    Other Tales and Sketches

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

British Dictionary definitions for observe



(tr; may take a clause as object) to see; perceive; noticewe have observed that you steal
(when tr, 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 remarkthe speaker observed that times had changed
(tr) to abide by, keep, or follow (a custom, tradition, law, holiday, etc)
Derived Formsobservable, adjectiveobservableness or observability, nounobservably, adverb

Word Origin for observe

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

Word Origin and History for observe

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