What does observe mean?

Definitions for observe

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word observe.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. detect, observe, find, discover, noticeverb

    discover or determine the existence, presence, or fact of

    "She detected high levels of lead in her drinking water"; "We found traces of lead in the paint"

  2. note, observe, mention, remarkverb

    make mention of

    "She observed that his presentation took up too much time"; "They noted that it was a fine day to go sailing"

  3. note, take note, observeverb

    observe with care or pay close attention to

    "Take note of this chemical reaction"

  4. observeverb

    watch attentively

    "Please observe the reaction of these two chemicals"

  5. respect, honor, honour, abide by, observeverb

    show respect towards

    "honor your parents!"

  6. observe, celebrate, keepverb

    behave as expected during of holidays or rites

    "Keep the commandments"; "celebrate Christmas"; "Observe Yom Kippur"

  7. watch, observe, follow, watch over, keep an eye onverb

    follow with the eyes or the mind

    "Keep an eye on the baby, please!"; "The world is watching Sarajevo"; "She followed the men with the binoculars"

  8. observe, keep, maintainverb

    stick to correctly or closely

    "The pianist kept time with the metronome"; "keep count"; "I cannot keep track of all my employees"

  9. observe, keepverb

    conform one's action or practice to

    "keep appointments"; "she never keeps her promises"; "We kept to the original conditions of the contract"


  1. Observeverb

    To be on the watch respecting; to pay attention to; to notice with care; to see; to perceive; to notice; to discover; as, to observe an eclipse; to observe the color or fashion of a dress; to observe the movements of an army; to observe an accident.

  2. Observeverb

    To make a remark; to comment; to make an observation; -- generally with on or upon.


  1. observeverb

    To notice or view, especially carefully or with attention to detail.

    From this vantage point we can observe the behavior of the animals in their natural habitat.

  2. observeverb

    To follow the custom, practice, or rules (especially of a religion.)

    Please observe all posted speed limits.

  3. observeverb

    To comment on something; to make an observation.

    The senator observed that the bill would be detrimental to his constituents.

  4. Etymology: From observer, from observare, from ob + servare, from serw-. Cognate with, searu.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. To OBSERVEverb

    Etymology: observer, Fr. observo, Latin.

    Remember, that as thine eye observes others, so art thou observed by angels and by men. Taylor.

    If our idea of infinity be got from the power we observe in ourselves, of repeating without end our own ideas, it may be demanded why we do not attribute infinity to other ideas, as well as these of space and duration. John Locke.

    One may observe them discourse and reason pretty well, of several other things, before they can tell twenty. John Locke.

    A night to be much observed unto the Lord, for bringing them out of Egypt. Ex. xii. 42.

  2. To Observeverb

    Observing men may form many judgments by the rules of similitude and proportion, where causes and effects are not entirely the same. Isaac Watts, Logick.

    Wherever I have found her notes to be wholly another’s, which is the case in some hundreds, I have barely quoted the true proprietor, without observing upon it. Alexander Pope, Lett.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Observeverb

    to take notice of by appropriate conduct; to conform one's action or practice to; to keep; to heed; to obey; to comply with; as, to observe rules or commands; to observe civility

  2. Observeverb

    to be on the watch respecting; to pay attention to; to notice with care; to see; to perceive; to discover; as, to observe an eclipse; to observe the color or fashion of a dress; to observe the movements of an army

  3. Observeverb

    to express as what has been noticed; to utter as a remark; to say in a casual or incidental way; to remark

  4. Observeverb

    to take notice; to give attention to what one sees or hears; to attend

  5. Observeverb

    to make a remark; to comment; -- generally with on or upon

  6. Etymology: [L. observare, observatum; ob (see Ob-) + servare to save, preserve, keep, heed, observe: cf. F. observer. See Serve.]

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Observe

    ob-zėrv′, v.t. to keep in view: to notice: to subject to systematic observation: to regard attentively: to remark, refer to in words: to comply with: to heed and to carry out in practice: to keep with proper ceremony: to keep or guard.—v.i. to take notice: to attend: to remark.—adj. Observ′able, that may be observed or noticed: worthy of observation: remarkable: requiring to be observed.—n. Observ′ableness.—adv. Observ′ably.—ns. Observ′ance, act of observing or paying attention to: performance: attention: that which is to be observed: rule of practice, a custom to be observed: reverence: homage; Observ′ancy, observance: obsequiousness.—adj. Observ′ant, observing: having powers of observing and noting: taking notice: adhering to: carefully attentive.—n. (Shak.) an obsequious attendant: one strict to comply with a custom, &c.; or Observ′antine, one of those Franciscan monks of stricter rule who separated from the Conventuals in the 15th century.—adv. Observ′antly.—n. Observā′tion, act of observing: habit of seeing and noting: attention: the act of recognising and noting phenomena as they occur in nature, as distinguished from experiment: that which is observed: a remark: performance: the fact of being observed.—adj. Observā′tional, consisting of, or containing, observations or remarks: derived from observation, as distinguished from experiment.—adv. Observā′tionally.—adj. Obser′vative, attentive.—ns. Ob′servātor, one who observes: a remarker; Observ′atory, a place for making astronomical and physical observations, usually placed in some high and stable place; Observ′er.—adj. Observ′ing, habitually taking notice: attentive.—adv. Observ′ingly. [Fr.,—L. observāre, -ātumob, before, servāre, to keep.]

Editors Contribution

  1. observe

    Be aware of, using attention.

    As we drive we always observe as we know we have to be aware and give our attention.

    Submitted by MaryC on March 9, 2020  

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Verbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'observe' in Verbs Frequency: #281

Anagrams for observe »

  1. verbose

  2. obverse

How to pronounce observe?

How to say observe in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of observe in Chaldean Numerology is: 3

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of observe in Pythagorean Numerology is: 5

Examples of observe in a Sentence

  1. C. C. Colton:

    To know a man, observe how he wins his object, rather than how he loses it; for when we fail, our pride supports; when we succeed; it betrays us.

  2. Purvi Raniga:

    Yoga Practice gives us internal strength and resilience. Each breath taken during uncomfortable Asana forces us to observe our own internal resistance and hence the practice helps us to master our internal resilience.

  3. Roman Andryushin:

    We observe a situation now similar to (2009) when both benchmarks fell due to economic reasons but the pendulum swung in the favour of China first.

  4. Lowell Milken:

    The power of recognition is one of the strongest forces for stimulating human and social action. Yes, recognition is a powerful motivator—to those who receive it as well as those who observe it.

  5. Defense Secretary Ash Carter:

    When he was in Afghanistan as commanding general of ISAF joint command, I had a lot of opportunity to observe Mark on the ground leading our coalition allies and partners and helping the Afghan people prepare to take responsibility for their own security, mark and I flew to Iraq the day after an attack on the U.S. consulate there, and I saw Mark take command of the scene and stand with our people there I was impressed by his candor and good judgment, and I knew right away that he had more to offer the United States Army.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


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    expressing yourself easily or characterized by clear expressive language
    • A. tacky
    • B. extroversive
    • C. articulate
    • D. defiant

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