[on-loo k-er, awn-]


spectator; observer; witness.

Origin of onlooker

1600–10; on + looker, after verb phrase look on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for onlooker

Contemporary Examples of onlooker

Historical Examples of onlooker

  • If he were more of a "candle-holder" and onlooker, he would more resemble Hamlet.

  • He had not been content to take up the position of onlooker and historian only.

    A Nest of Spies

    Pierre Souvestre

  • And it is often those deaths which seem most terrible to the onlooker, which are least so to the sufferer.

  • To the onlooker who does not know its hazards faro is a funereal game.

    When the West Was Young

    Frederick R. Bechdolt

  • Here and there one which will haunt the onlooker through the rest of his days.

    The Lure of the Mask

    Harold MacGrath

British Dictionary definitions for onlooker



a person who observes without taking part
Derived Formsonlooking, adjective
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 onlooker

c.1600, from on + agent noun from look (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper