vigilant or alert; closely observant: The sentry remained watchful throughout the night.
Archaic. wakeful.

Origin of watchful

First recorded in 1540–50; watch + -ful
Related formswatch·ful·ly, adverbwatch·ful·ness, nounself-watch·ful·ness, nounun·watch·ful, adjectiveun·watch·ful·ly, adverbun·watch·ful·ness, noun

Synonyms for watchful

Synonym study

1. See alert. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for watchfulness

Historical Examples of watchfulness

  • With some dryness, she preached energy, watchfulness, and a hopeful mind.

    The Coryston Family

    Mrs. Humphry Ward

  • It was the hush of portent, the hush of watchfulness, the hush of a threatening tension.

    The Law-Breakers

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • His large eyes were full of a sort of cloudy rebuke and watchfulness.

    A Spirit in Prison

    Robert Hichens

  • And thus she opposed to the mother's new watchfulness the watchfulness of the child.

    A Spirit in Prison

    Robert Hichens

  • The watchfulness seemed to have gone from his eyes, his muscles to have relaxed.

British Dictionary definitions for watchfulness



vigilant or alert
archaic not sleeping
Derived Formswatchfully, adverbwatchfulness, noun
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 watchfulness



c.1500, waccheful, from watch (v.) + -ful. Related: Watchfulness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper