[ woch ]
See synonyms for: watchwatchedwatcheswatching on

verb (used without object)
  1. to be alertly on the lookout, look attentively, or observe, as to see what comes, is done, or happens: to watch while an experiment is performed.

  2. to look or wait attentively and expectantly (usually followed by for): to watch for a signal; to watch for an opportunity.

  1. to be careful or cautious: Watch when you cross the street.

  2. to keep awake, especially for a purpose; remain vigilant, as for protection or safekeeping: to watch with a sick person.

  3. to keep vigil, as for devotional purposes.

  4. to keep guard: She was assigned to watch at the door.

verb (used with object)
  1. to keep under attentive view or observation, as in order to see or learn something; view attentively or with interest: to watch a play; to watch a football game.

  2. to contemplate or regard mentally: to watch his progress.

  1. to look or wait attentively and expectantly for: to watch one's opportunity.

  2. to guard, tend, or oversee, especially for protection or safekeeping: to watch the baby.

  1. close, continuous observation for the purpose of seeing or discovering something: Their watch for the birds was unrewarding.

  2. vigilant guard, as for protection or restraint: to keep watch for prowlers.

  1. a keeping awake for some special purpose: a watch beside a sickbed.

  2. a period of time for watching or keeping guard: to stand the first watch.

  3. a small, portable timepiece, as a wrist watch or pocket watch.

  4. Nautical.

    • 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.

  5. one of the periods, usually three or four, into which the night was divided in ancient times, as by the Greeks or Hebrews: the fourth watch of the night.

  6. a person or group that watches, as a lookout, guard, or sentinel: A watch was posted at sunset.

  7. Also called storm watch. Meteorology. an announcement from the U.S. National Weather Service alerting the public that dangerous weather conditions are a possibility and that vigilance and precautionary preparations are advised: hurricane watch;tornado watch.: Compare advisory (def. 5), warning (def. 3).

  8. a flock of nightingales.

Verb Phrases
  1. watch out, to be on one's guard; be cautious: Watch out for cars when you cross the road.

  2. watch over, to guard for protection or safekeeping: She watched over us like a mother hen over her brood.

Idioms about watch

  1. on the watch, vigilant; alert: The hunter was on the watch for game.

  2. watch oneself,

    • to be cautious.

    • to practice discretion or self-restraint.

Origin of watch

First recorded before 900; 1580–90 for def. 15; (verb) Middle English wacchen, Old English wæccan, doublet of wacian “to be awake”; (noun) Middle English wacche, Old English wæcce, derivative of wæccan; see wake1

synonym study For watch

1. Watch, look, see imply being aware of things around one by perceiving them through the eyes. To watch is to be a spectator, to look on or observe, or to fix the attention upon during passage of time: to watch while a procession passes. To look is to direct the gaze with the intention of seeing, to use the eyesight with attention: to look for violets in the spring; to look at articles displayed for sale. To see is to perceive with the eyes, to obtain a visual impression, with or without fixing the attention: animals able to see in the dark.

Other words for watch

Other words from watch

  • un·watched, adjective
  • un·watch·ing, adjective
  • well-watched, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use watch in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for watch (1 of 2)


/ (wɒtʃ) /

  1. to look at or observe closely or attentively

  2. (intr foll by for) to wait attentively or expectantly

  1. to guard or tend (something) closely or carefully

  2. (intr) to keep vigil

  3. (tr) to maintain an interest in: to watch the progress of a child at school

  4. watch it! be careful! look out!

    • a small portable timepiece, usually worn strapped to the wrist (a wristwatch) or in a waistcoat pocket

    • (as modifier): a watch spring

  1. the act or an instance of watching

  1. a period of vigil, esp during the night

  2. (formerly) one of a set of periods of any of various lengths into which the night was divided

  3. nautical

    • 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

  4. the period during which a guard is on duty

  5. (formerly) a watchman or band of watchmen

  6. on the watch on the lookout; alert

Origin of watch

Old English wæccan (vb), wæcce (n); related to wake 1

British Dictionary definitions for -watch (2 of 2)


  1. indicating a regular television programme or newspaper feature on the topic specified: Crimewatch

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with watch


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

also see:

  • keep watch
  • look (watch) out
  • on the lookout (watch)

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.