Definition of observe in English:

observe

verb

[with object]
  • 1Notice or perceive (something) and register it as being significant.

    with clause ‘she observed that all the chairs were already occupied’
    • ‘Arrow of time refers to the capability of distinguishing previous events from subsequent events by observing significant differences between the two events.’
    • ‘Although it was hard to notice, observing the area around it, everything inside was alive.’
    • ‘Significant differences were observed between infants placed in solitary versus bedsharing conditions in the sleep laboratory.’
    • ‘He told the truth as he perceived and observed it.’
    • ‘Learning disorders may be informally flagged by observing significant delays in the child's skill development.’
    • ‘At this diminished rate of novel sequence discovery, one can expect to observe a significant gain from enrichment procedures.’
    • ‘Many cultures observe a significant event as a right of passage.’
    • ‘Whilst observing her leg I noticed that her's was hair free and I idly wondered in my dream if she waxed her own legs.’
    • ‘In that time I observed no significant deterioration in less frequented parts of the path, but this was not the case with more popular sections.’
    • ‘During the implementation of a smoke-free law that applied to public places and workplaces we observed a significant drop in admissions for acute myocardial infarction.’
    • ‘The crowd cheered as I spoke, and while observing the crowd I noticed a lot more new faces, all cheering loudly, as if begging for the music to start.’
    • ‘No significant differences were observed between the homeopathic group, a placebo group, and patients who were given nothing at all.’
    • ‘I'm aware that the kitten notices me observing the obscure figure.’
    • ‘Brad took a seat in one of the arm chairs in the front room and observed the house and noticed the glass and vases being stuck together and large amounts of air fresheners around the house.’
    • ‘We observed no significant condition interactions for total life stress, negative life-event stress, or hardiness.’
    • ‘Respectfully retreating to the side of the room with five of the princesses, Lord Cecil bit back a sigh as he observed a significant glance between Briar and Althia.’
    • ‘One arm curled across her chest, holding onto the top of her other arm, I noticed, still observing the girl.’
    • ‘What he went through was an exaggerated form of something that Summers had noticed while observing his daughter at play.’
    • ‘Fisher did not report observing any significant changes in the number of abstinent students in their university-based study.’
    • ‘They said they were ‘appalled and angry’ at losing their nine year old son, saying senior hospital staff and management had failed to observe guidelines and safety notices.’
    notice, see, note, perceive, discern, remark, spot, detect, discover, distinguish, make out
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Watch (someone or something) carefully and attentively.
      ‘Rob stood in the hallway, from where he could observe the happenings on the street’
      • ‘You are to watch them carefully and observe them.’
      • ‘He only observed me carefully, that frightful smile never leaving his lips.’
      • ‘Allison observed the landscape, registering small details she hadn't noticed the first time.’
      • ‘As we filled our plates with warm food, I watched my family observe him carefully, wondering what it was in him that made me like him.’
      • ‘Sophia had already moved onto the next Guard, observing her carefully and giving her the once-over.’
      • ‘Carefully observe someone whose gesticulation style you like.’
      • ‘She forced herself to keep her eyes off of him, although she could tell he was observing her carefully.’
      • ‘He observed her carefully as she lifted the plastic fork to her lips and ate the noodles, white sauce smearing on her lips.’
      • ‘A thick wet mop of dark hair clung to his head, a look of concern fixed onto his handsome face, as he seemed to carefully observe her.’
      • ‘She tilted her head to the side, observing him carefully.’
      • ‘There was another boxer out on the ring, and Forte, having nothing else to watch, observed him shadowbox.’
      • ‘Staying to the shadows and being careful not to step on any sticks that were still being hidden by unmelted snow, she watched and observed him.’
      • ‘Some quite inquisitive - and even proprietorial - individuals came close, begging for food and carefully observing us whilst we worked in the water.’
      • ‘His style is very Sherlockian because he observes things closely and notices details others miss.’
      • ‘She was watching us, observing us, and there was a knowing smile on her elfin face that sent a shiver down my spine.’
      • ‘He observed Michelle carefully for a moment and was startled to find that she seemed to be telling the truth.’
      • ‘It rose it's head, observing her carefully and heaving a bit as she pulled herself into the saddle and took the reins in hand.’
      • ‘They were just observing her, watching her every move, her every breath.’
      • ‘In the meantime, they simply observe him and watch him grow.’
      • ‘While he stood there, the girl observed him carefully through her still wet eyelashes.’
      watch, see, look at, eye, contemplate, view, survey, regard, witness, keep an eye on, scrutinize, keep under observation, keep watch on, keep under surveillance, monitor, keep under scrutiny, watch like a hawk, keep a weather eye on, spy on, check out, reconnoitre
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Take note of or detect (something) in the course of a scientific study.
      ‘the behaviour observed in groups of chimpanzees’
      • ‘Each study bath was observed and timed with a stopwatch by 1 of 2 trained research assistants using a bath observation tool.’
      • ‘No flocks consisting of more than three mated pairs were observed in the study area over the course of the two-year study period.’
      • ‘Spend a week in the breathtaking Lamar Valley studying and observing wolves, grizzly bears, black bears, moose and other wildlife.’
      • ‘In all cases studied, all observed symptoms have been found to he completely reversible when Kava consumption is discontinued.’
      • ‘In most cases, the elements radioactively decay so rapidly that scientists have very little opportunity to observe them and study their properties.’
      • ‘In previous studies, we observed students in remedial classrooms who were highly motivated to solve the video and applied problems.’
      • ‘Slivken will therefore be using the majority of his time to study and observe the differences in educational style.’
      • ‘In another study, a scientists observed single contrails produced by military jets that were allowed to fly during those days.’
      • ‘By data I mean controlled studies in which the specific effects of the Pill were observed and noted.’
      • ‘Yet we do know from animal behaviour studies that observing animals in zoos and laboratories can be very different from how they behave in their natural environment.’
      • ‘The study becomes one of observing the processes by which the intervening stages are established and how these influence the eventual perception of the event.’
      • ‘Although we did not attempt to explain why these differences are observed, other studies have suggested that honesty in reporting may be a factor.’
      • ‘No adverse events were observed during the study period.’
      • ‘Astronomers here observe the universe by studying faint radio waves emitted by stars, evaporating comets and distant galaxies.’
      • ‘The groups were observed in new behavioral studies of the western lowland gorilla.’
      • ‘Group cyberstalking was also observed in the study.’
      • ‘No air leaks were observed during the study period.’
      • ‘The first box holds the experiment insert, which is surrounded by optics, video cameras and different sorts of sensors for observing the scientific phenomena.’
      • ‘The study, which observed the natural course of precancerous uterine cervical lesions without treatment in women, had not given written consent to take part.’
      • ‘We thank the many field assistants who have spent long hours censusing and observing birds on our study plots and helping us to understand what determines bird abundances.’
  • 2reporting verb Make a remark.

    with direct speech ‘‘It's chilly,’ she observed’
    with clause ‘a stockbroker once observed that dealers live and work in hell’
    • ‘The late Mr Ahmed, in his characteristic astuteness, once observed that the will of the U.S. ruling class to dominate is not quite shared by its people.’
    • ‘He observes that students, once out of college, find it extremely difficult hunting jobs or pursuing further studies.’
    • ‘In fact, one commentator has observed that we live in the ‘Untied States of America.’’
    • ‘As C.S. Lewis once observed, ‘I am a converted pagan living among apostate Puritans.’’
    • ‘Sentimentality always cloaks brutality, as Jung once wisely observed, and wolves in sheep's clothing are always ready for the big chance.’
    • ‘And as Condi Rice once famously observed, ‘The smoking gun we may see may be a mushroom cloud.’’
    • ‘To a neighbour, who also declared that the doctor made the same remark, the Coroner observed: ‘I think you must have misunderstood him’.’
    • ‘Poincare once observed, there may be questions that we choose to ask, but others ask themselves, sometimes for centuries, while no one listens.’
    • ‘In the long run, as John Maynard Keynes once observed, we are all dead.’
    • ‘In short, ‘A man has got to know his limitations,’ as Dirty Harry once observed.’
    • ‘Hanif Mohammad, the great Pakistani batsman, once observed that Sobers ‘was sent by God to earth to play cricket’.’
    • ‘As Arthur Ashe once observed: ‘All his life Connors was trained not to trust anyone and to look out for nobody but himself.’’
    • ‘Iris Murdoch once observed: ‘Philosophy is often a matter of finding occasions on which to say the obvious.’’
    • ‘These, as Curtis Blow once observed, are the breaks.’
    • ‘He sounds like Alan Partridge, who once observed that ‘the police are hardly going to arrest someone unless he's guilty.’’
    • ‘Football, Sun Tzu once observed, is a funny old game.’
    • ‘Of course, he has a cabinet and a civil service to help him in that awesome task, but, as President Harry Truman once famously observed, the buck stops on the desk of the elected leader.’
    • ‘It was former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who once memorably observed that for centuries the Himalayas have protected us, and now we must protect them.’
    • ‘In his concluding remarks Justice Ahmadi observed that government officials had to follow statute rather than waiting for ministers' orders.’
    • ‘Michael Sweeney once observed, which is that bishops meeting in council don't know what they are talking about.’
    comment, remark, say, mention, note, declare, announce, state, utter, pronounce, interpose, interject
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  • 3Fulfil or comply with (a social, legal, ethical, or religious obligation)

    ‘a tribunal must observe the principles of natural justice’
    • ‘Varying social organization has been observed among other large carnivores.’
    • ‘Did the early Christian church continue to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread?’
    • ‘Americans get just two weeks of annual leave and there is no obligation for states to observe the 10 federal public holidays.’
    • ‘Human rights and peremptory norms of international law must be observed, and legal obligations toward third states must be respected.’
    • ‘In all ordinary cases, indeed, the principle must be observed which rejects statements made by anyone in the prisoner's absence.’
    • ‘The minister said the matter had been referred to the Judicial Department for observing the necessary legal formalities for executing the death sentence.’
    • ‘Among their obligations is observing the Regional Election Commissions in all the constituencies in their regions.’
    • ‘A third reason why state officials observe international legal obligations is that they perceive international law to be of functional value.’
    • ‘At this early stage, still some time before its product has received marketing clearance or approval, the company must ensure that it observes the legal and regulatory restrictions on what can be said about its device.’
    • ‘Russia is today a party to an internal armed conflict, and must observe its obligations under the Geneva Conventions and other international humanitarian law that regulates such conflicts.’
    • ‘I think we may be observing the general social norm that frowns on age discrimination and accommodates disability.’
    • ‘If the conditions enumerated are observed, the social revolution will painlessly melt into democracy.’
    • ‘The older people may wish to individually observe religious rituals, but with the young Sabra, orthodox custom holds no sway.’
    • ‘For good hand-washing habits, section members will stress that the following steps must be observed.’
    • ‘Turkey observes both civil and religious holidays.’
    • ‘But if the government of a Darul-Kufr allows him to observe his religious duties, then it is not incumbent upon him to migrate to Darul-Islam.’
    • ‘Religious minorities observe their own rituals.’
    • ‘Devotees must know the position of the sun when observing their religious rituals, and their temples contain an inner sanctum in which burns a perpetual fire.’
    • ‘Although universally accepted procedures must be observed, they furnish little or no assistance in resolving such a predicament as faced the surgeon here.’
    • ‘Sri Lankans observe a strict religious edict that forbids them to play sports during a full moon, a holy day for the island country's Buddhist majority.’
    comply with, abide by, keep, obey, adhere to, conform to, heed, honour, respect, be heedful of, pay attention to, follow, acquiesce in, consent to, accept, defer to, fulfil, stand by
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1 Maintain (silence) in compliance with a rule or custom, or temporarily as a mark of respect.
      ‘a minute's silence will be observed’
      • ‘During last weeks game, a minutes silence was observed for the late John O'Sullivan who was a former committee member of the Community Centre.’
      • ‘At his side, the children, useless in tasks that required strength, observed a respectful silence for their leader.’
      • ‘A minute's silence was observed as a mark of respect on the death of Alfred, brother of Walter.’
      • ‘I was observing the two minutes silence and he wanted to know what I was doing.’
      • ‘Before the match two minutes silence was observed by both teams as a mark of respect for umpire Annesley who passed way last morning.’
      • ‘The Town Council at it's meeting on Thursday observed a minute's silence as a mark of respect to Mrs. Whelan.’
      • ‘As a mark of respect the council will observe the two minute silence at 11 am on Thursday in the main offices at Browfort, in Devizes.’
      • ‘At 11 am, rifle fire marked the start of a two-minute silence, which was observed by a large crowd of people of all ages, who had gathered to join in the service.’
      • ‘The deceased gentleman was an avid supporter of greyhound racing, and as a mark of respect a minute's silence was observed at Saturday night's meet at the Waterford Track.’
      • ‘At noon today a three minute silence will be observed across Europe in remembrance of the victims of the Sumatran tsunami.’
      • ‘Kitty had been attending bingo in Newtown since 1978 and John Conway observed a minute's silence as a mark of respect.’
      • ‘As a mark of respect, a minute's silence will be observed before each of the games tomorrow, the day Ireland were due to play their second fixture against Japan.’
      • ‘As a mark of respect a minute silence was observed.’
      • ‘It was Armistice Day, when two minutes' silence is observed in remembrance of the dead in the first world war.’
      • ‘They coned off a section of the road close to the scene on Monday so they could pay their respects and observe a minute's silence in memory of Mr Styles in safety.’
      • ‘As a mark of respect Carlow County Council observed a minute's silence at their Monday meeting this week.’
      • ‘Prior to the kick-off, a minute's silence was observed in respect of the memory of Tom Dutton of Ferrybank.’
      • ‘Before the game began, a vote of sympathy was passed and a minutes silence was observed as a mark of respect to the late Mrs Fierson who died in Liverpool, England.’
      • ‘At the outset, a moment of silence was observed as a mark of respect to the late Tom Rowley, who died earlier in the year.’
      • ‘Before the game, a minute's silence was observed in respect of Bob Wilson, a long serving member of the Huntington club who died recently.’
      show consideration for, show regard for, take into consideration, take into account, make allowances for, take cognizance of, pay attention to, pay heed to, bear in mind, be mindful of, be heedful of, remember
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    2. 3.2 Perform or take part in (a rite or ceremony)
      ‘relations gather to observe the funeral rites’
      • ‘As I observed the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, an explosion of genetic responses went off deep inside me.’
      • ‘Jai Krishna assured them all rites had been faithfully observed.’
      • ‘This ceremony has been observed for the past eight years.’
      • ‘Nineteenth-and early-twentieth-century travelers and missionaries observed Jengu rites along the coast.’
      • ‘The festive season of Christmas was observed in the usual reverent and enjoyable manner by the community in Bunclody.’
      • ‘Muslim rites are generally observed for such ceremonies, which are accompanied by feasting and the signing of the marital agreement by bride and groom.’
      • ‘This holiday long weekend atheists and believers alike observed religious rituals.’
      • ‘There were big bad wolves at the door back then and the rituals and ceremonies we observed were an important part of our defences against them.’
      • ‘Only a few people came to observe a tightly guarded ceremony held in the town's Hiraq square, presided over by Regent Tarmizi Akarim and attended by local dignitaries.’
      • ‘Every caste, tribe, town, village, and religion has a panoply of traditional ceremonies that are observed with enthusiasm and wide participation.’
      • ‘Three main rites of passage still observed are baptism, marriage, and death.’
      carry out, perform, do, put into practice, execute, follow, exercise
      View synonyms
    3. 3.3 Celebrate or acknowledge (an anniversary)
      ‘they observed the one-year anniversary of the flood’
      • ‘H.C. Andersen's 200th birth anniversary will be observed as a national event in Denmark this year.’
      • ‘Tahitian Americans in the United States may also observe the French Polynesian celebration of Bastille Day on July 14.’
      • ‘Racetracks across the United States planned to observe the one-year anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Wednesday.’
      • ‘Green said he intends to keep working for at least two more years, long enough to observe his 50th anniversary.’
      • ‘Many - especially those in rural areas - still observe the traditional Christmas celebration.’
      • ‘A private group is organizing activities to observe the 600th anniversary of the naval expeditions led by Ming dynasty explorer Zheng He.’
      • ‘Some Muslims, citing the moon phase, claim the celebration should have been observed today and not tomorrow, the day of the public holiday awarded by the Government.’
      • ‘A festive mood prevailed through most parts of the country when Indonesians observed the 57th anniversary of their independence on Saturday.’
      • ‘The November 19 Belize Settlement Day is observed with a daylong celebration on the closest weekend.’
      • ‘In observing the 65th anniversary of his birth, we celebrate Vadim's life.’
      • ‘But the Holy Prophet, or his noble companions never observed the birthday or anniversary of any of them.’
      • ‘There is wide acceptance of the various special days that are observed / celebrated in a year.’
      • ‘School children wearing ‘Bharati’ masks led the procession to observe the 121st birth anniversary of the legendary poet.’
      • ‘On January 6 Mrs. Fong and I observed our 30th wedding anniversary quietly.’
      • ‘The birth of the sun god Mithra was observed and celebrated on December 25th.’
      • ‘These celebrations had to be observed in secret during the Soviet era.’
      • ‘Through the years, re-enactments and commemorations have regularly been observed at the site on the battle's anniversary.’
      • ‘Also, be sure to return on August 17, when we will observe the one-year anniversary of Rachel's murder.’
      • ‘Among those observing the Hiroshima anniversary will be hundreds of Quakers in York, during their annual gathering at York University.’
      • ‘This weekend, Liberia observes its 156th independence anniversary, but there is little to celebrate.’
      participate in, partake in, be present at, celebrate, keep
      View synonyms

Origin

Late Middle English (in observe (sense 3)): from Old French observer, from Latin observare ‘to watch’, from ob- ‘towards’ + servare ‘attend to, look at’.

Pronunciation

observe

/əbˈzəːv/