verb (used without object)
verb (used with object)
- a period of time, usually four hours, during which one part of a ship's crew is on duty, taking turns with another part.
- the officers and crew who attend to the working of a ship for an allotted period of time.
- to be cautious.
- to practice discretion or self-restraint.
Origin of watch
Synonyms for watch
Related Words for on the watchcautious, wary, observant, suspicious, vigilant, attentive, careful, alert, chary, circumspect, guarded, heedful, hooked, keen, open-eyed, prepared, ready, wakeful, wide-awake
- a small portable timepiece, usually worn strapped to the wrist (a wristwatch) or in a waistcoat pocket
- (as modifier)a watch spring
- 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
- those officers and crew on duty during a specified watch
Word Origin for watch
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.
on the watch
see on the lookout.
In addition to the idioms beginning with watch
- watched pot never boils, a
- watch it
- watch like a hawk
- watch my dust
- watch one's step
- watch out
- watch over
- keep watch
- look (watch) out
- on the lookout (watch)