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See more synonyms for watchful on Thesaurus.com
  1. vigilant or alert; closely observant: The sentry remained watchful throughout the night.
  2. Archaic. wakeful.
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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

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Synonym study

1. See alert.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for watchfulness

readiness, wariness, mindfulness, keenness, attention, carefulness, wakefulness, caution, awareness, alertness

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


  1. vigilant or alert
  2. archaic not sleeping
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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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper