verb (used with object), ob·served, ob·serv·ing.

  1. to see, watch, perceive, or notice: He observed the passersby in the street.
  2. to regard with attention, especially so as to see or learn something: I want you to observe her reaction to the judge’s question.
  3. to watch, view, or note for a scientific, official, or other special purpose: to observe an eclipse.
  4. to state by way of comment; remark: He observed frequently that clerks were not as courteous as they used to be.
  5. to keep or maintain in one’s action, conduct, etc.: You must observe quiet.
  6. to obey, comply with, or conform to: to observe laws.
  7. to show regard for by some appropriate procedure, ceremony, etc.: to observe Palm Sunday.
  8. to perform duly or solemnize (ceremonies, rites, etc.).
  9. to note or inspect closely for an omen or sign of future events.

verb (used without object), ob·served, ob·serv·ing.

  1. to notice.
  2. to act as an observer.
  3. to remark or comment (usually followed by on or upon).


  1. (tr; may take a clause as object) to see; perceive; noticewe have observed that you steal
  2. (when tr, may take a clause as object) to watch (something) carefully; pay attention to (something)
  3. to make observations of (something), esp scientific ones
  4. (when intr, usually foll by on or upon; when tr, may take a clause as object) to make a comment or remarkthe speaker observed that times had changed
  5. (tr) to abide by, keep, or follow (a custom, tradition, law, holiday, etc)

v.late 14c., “to hold to” (a manner of life or course of conduct), from Old French observer, osserver “to observe, watch over, follow” (10c.), from Latin observare “watch over, note, heed, look to, attend to, guard, regard, comply with,” from ob “over” (see ob-) + servare “to watch, keep safe,” from PIE root *ser- “to protect.” Meaning “to attend to in practice, to keep, follow” is attested from late 14c. Sense of “watch, perceive, notice” is 1560s, via notion of “see and note omens.” Meaning “to say by way of remark” is from c.1600. Related: Observed; observing.

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