Definition of observe in English:



  • 1Notice or perceive (something) and register it as being significant.

    [with clause] ‘young people observe that decisions are made by others’
    • ‘We observed no significant condition interactions for total life stress, negative life-event stress, or hardiness.’
    • ‘Arrow of time refers to the capability of distinguishing previous events from subsequent events by observing significant differences between the two events.’
    • ‘I'm aware that the kitten notices me observing the obscure figure.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Many cultures observe a significant event as a right of passage.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Significant differences were observed between infants placed in solitary versus bedsharing conditions in the sleep laboratory.’
    • ‘What he went through was an exaggerated form of something that Summers had noticed while observing his daughter at play.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Although it was hard to notice, observing the area around it, everything inside was alive.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘No significant differences were observed between the homeopathic group, a placebo group, and patients who were given nothing at all.’
    • ‘Fisher did not report observing any significant changes in the number of abstinent students in their university-based study.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘One arm curled across her chest, holding onto the top of her other arm, I noticed, still observing the girl.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘At this diminished rate of novel sequence discovery, one can expect to observe a significant gain from enrichment procedures.’
    notice, see, note, perceive, discern, remark, spot, detect, discover, distinguish, make out
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    1. 1.1Watch (someone or something) carefully and attentively.
      ‘Rob stood in the hallway, where he could observe the happenings on the street’
      • ‘While he stood there, the girl observed him carefully through her still wet eyelashes.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In the meantime, they simply observe him and watch him grow.’
      • ‘She was watching us, observing us, and there was a knowing smile on her elfin face that sent a shiver down my spine.’
      • ‘She forced herself to keep her eyes off of him, although she could tell he was observing her carefully.’
      • ‘She tilted her head to the side, observing him carefully.’
      • ‘His style is very Sherlockian because he observes things closely and notices details others miss.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Sophia had already moved onto the next Guard, observing her carefully and giving her the once-over.’
      • ‘You are to watch them carefully and observe them.’
      • ‘He observed her carefully as she lifted the plastic fork to her lips and ate the noodles, white sauce smearing on her lips.’
      • ‘Some quite inquisitive - and even proprietorial - individuals came close, begging for food and carefully observing us whilst we worked in the water.’
      • ‘They were just observing her, watching her every move, her every breath.’
      • ‘There was another boxer out on the ring, and Forte, having nothing else to watch, observed him shadowbox.’
      • ‘He observed Michelle carefully for a moment and was startled to find that she seemed to be telling the truth.’
      • ‘Allison observed the landscape, registering small details she hadn't noticed the first time.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He only observed me carefully, that frightful smile never leaving his lips.’
      • ‘Carefully observe someone whose gesticulation style you like.’
      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
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    2. 1.2Take note of or detect (something) in the course of a scientific study.
      ‘the behavior observed in groups of chimpanzees’
      • ‘The study, which observed the natural course of precancerous uterine cervical lesions without treatment in women, had not given written consent to take part.’
      • ‘In all cases studied, all observed symptoms have been found to he completely reversible when Kava consumption is discontinued.’
      • ‘Although we did not attempt to explain why these differences are observed, other studies have suggested that honesty in reporting may be a factor.’
      • ‘Group cyberstalking was also observed in the study.’
      • ‘No air leaks were observed during the study period.’
      • ‘No adverse events were observed during the study period.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In another study, a scientists observed single contrails produced by military jets that were allowed to fly during those days.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The first box holds the experiment insert, which is surrounded by optics, video cameras and different sorts of sensors for observing the scientific phenomena.’
      • ‘Astronomers here observe the universe by studying faint radio waves emitted by stars, evaporating comets and distant galaxies.’
      • ‘By data I mean controlled studies in which the specific effects of the Pill were observed and noted.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The groups were observed in new behavioral studies of the western lowland gorilla.’
      • ‘Slivken will therefore be using the majority of his time to study and observe the differences in educational style.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Each study bath was observed and timed with a stopwatch by 1 of 2 trained research assistants using a bath observation tool.’
  • 2[reporting 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’
    comment, remark, say, mention, note, declare, announce, state, utter, pronounce, interpose, interject
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  • 3Fulfill or comply with (a social, legal, ethical, or religious obligation)

    ‘a tribunal must observe the principles of natural justice’
    • ‘Human rights and peremptory norms of international law must be observed, and legal obligations toward third states must be respected.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘If the conditions enumerated are observed, the social revolution will painlessly melt into democracy.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The older people may wish to individually observe religious rituals, but with the young Sabra, orthodox custom holds no sway.’
    • ‘Varying social organization has been observed among other large carnivores.’
    • ‘For good hand-washing habits, section members will stress that the following steps must be observed.’
    • ‘Did the early Christian church continue to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread?’
    • ‘Religious minorities observe their own rituals.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Americans get just two weeks of annual leave and there is no obligation for states to observe the 10 federal public holidays.’
    • ‘I think we may be observing the general social norm that frowns on age discrimination and accommodates disability.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In all ordinary cases, indeed, the principle must be observed which rejects statements made by anyone in the prisoner's absence.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Turkey observes both civil and religious holidays.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The minister said the matter had been referred to the Judicial Department for observing the necessary legal formalities for executing the death sentence.’
    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
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    1. 3.1Maintain (silence) in compliance with a rule or custom, or temporarily as a mark of respect.
      ‘a minute's silence will be observed’
      • ‘I was observing the two minutes silence and he wanted to know what I was doing.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘At his side, the children, useless in tasks that required strength, observed a respectful silence for their leader.’
      • ‘Before the match two minutes silence was observed by both teams as a mark of respect for umpire Annesley who passed way last morning.’
      • ‘It was Armistice Day, when two minutes' silence is observed in remembrance of the dead in the first world war.’
      • ‘Prior to the kick-off, a minute's silence was observed in respect of the memory of Tom Dutton of Ferrybank.’
      • ‘As a mark of respect a minute silence was observed.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The Town Council at it's meeting on Thursday observed a minute's silence as a mark of respect to Mrs. Whelan.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Kitty had been attending bingo in Newtown since 1978 and John Conway observed a minute's silence as a mark of respect.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 noon today a three minute silence will be observed across Europe in remembrance of the victims of the Sumatran tsunami.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A minute's silence was observed as a mark of respect on the death of Alfred, brother of Walter.’
      • ‘As a mark of respect Carlow County Council observed a minute's silence at their Monday meeting this week.’
    2. 3.2Perform or take part in (a rite or ceremony)
      ‘relations gather to observe the funeral rites’
      • ‘This holiday long weekend atheists and believers alike observed religious rituals.’
      • ‘As I observed the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, an explosion of genetic responses went off deep inside me.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Jai Krishna assured them all rites had been faithfully observed.’
      • ‘Three main rites of passage still observed are baptism, marriage, and death.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Muslim rites are generally observed for such ceremonies, which are accompanied by feasting and the signing of the marital agreement by bride and groom.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This ceremony has been observed for the past eight years.’
      carry out, perform, do, put into practice, execute, follow, exercise
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    3. 3.3Celebrate or acknowledge (an anniversary)
      ‘many observed the one-year anniversary of the flood’
      • ‘Through the years, re-enactments and commemorations have regularly been observed at the site on the battle's anniversary.’
      • ‘The birth of the sun god Mithra was observed and celebrated on December 25th.’
      • ‘The November 19 Belize Settlement Day is observed with a daylong celebration on the closest weekend.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Among those observing the Hiroshima anniversary will be hundreds of Quakers in York, during their annual gathering at York University.’
      • ‘School children wearing ‘Bharati’ masks led the procession to observe the 121st birth anniversary of the legendary poet.’
      • ‘There is wide acceptance of the various special days that are observed / celebrated in a year.’
      • ‘Tahitian Americans in the United States may also observe the French Polynesian celebration of Bastille Day on July 14.’
      • ‘A festive mood prevailed through most parts of the country when Indonesians observed the 57th anniversary of their independence on Saturday.’
      • ‘A private group is organizing activities to observe the 600th anniversary of the naval expeditions led by Ming dynasty explorer Zheng He.’
      • ‘Many - especially those in rural areas - still observe the traditional Christmas celebration.’
      • ‘But the Holy Prophet, or his noble companions never observed the birthday or anniversary of any of them.’
      • ‘On January 6 Mrs. Fong and I observed our 30th wedding anniversary quietly.’
      • ‘Also, be sure to return on August 17, when we will observe the one-year anniversary of Rachel's murder.’
      • ‘These celebrations had to be observed in secret during the Soviet era.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In observing the 65th anniversary of his birth, we celebrate Vadim's life.’
      • ‘H.C. Andersen's 200th birth anniversary will be observed as a national event in Denmark this year.’
      • ‘Green said he intends to keep working for at least two more years, long enough to observe his 50th anniversary.’
      • ‘This weekend, Liberia observes its 156th independence anniversary, but there is little to celebrate.’
      participate in, partake in, be present at, celebrate, keep
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Late Middle English ( observe): from Old French observer, from Latin observare to watch from ob- toward + servare attend to, look at.