Definition of observer in US English:



  • 1A person who watches or notices something.

    ‘to a casual observer, he was at peace’
    • ‘But I do conceive of a new game in the meantime, as I watch the impartial observers who survey us nonstop for our own safety.’
    • ‘More importantly, though - and this is something that few observers seem to have noticed - the scale of her marks changed dramatically.’
    • ‘It was a feast to eyes of the observer watching people eat baked water chestnuts.’
    • ‘He said few observers had noticed this part of the speech, which could have a ‘significant’ impact on some owner-managers which have not been paying the right amount of tax.’
    • ‘A casual observer might have noticed they were all drinking pints of Caledonian 80 Shilling, but they were not only there to enjoy the local ale.’
    • ‘Industry observers are now watching to see if the changes at both companies will prove a blessing or a curse, particularly for the jobs of the 7,000-plus employees at the two businesses.’
    • ‘It took a dedicated observer to notice what was going on, but these clouds were estranged now.’
    • ‘A keen observer might notice the Star of David she wears around her neck.’
    • ‘For instance, on the island site of the ‘Three Pools Mirroring the Moon’ even a casual observer may notice something slightly odd about some of the trees.’
    • ‘Silent observers continue to watch, unsure whether it is us mismanaging our affairs or just the stronger and more corruptible ones keeping their grip tight.’
    • ‘Keen observers will have noticed that a sign has been placed on the gate to a field opposite Marshallstown houses recently.’
    • ‘In lieu of using polls to determine a candidate's strength among the voters, prudent observers will watch how the campaign teams shuffle their money.’
    • ‘The power of the strike is such that even a casual observer would sit up and take notice.’
    • ‘These are the kind of clues that might escape the notice of the casual observer.’
    • ‘Over a period of years a sympathetic observer notices marked changes, although such personal reflections are notoriously subjective.’
    • ‘The omission was not only noticed by quiet observers but triggered general audience murmur well before the show's half-way mark.’
    • ‘Only a trained observer would notice her hands and feet look somewhat larger and more masculine.’
    • ‘Keen-eyed observers among you will notice that I've been fiddling with my template once again.’
    • ‘More skeptical observers noticed the shameless manipulation.’
    • ‘But a careful observer would notice a second transportation link that leaves from here.’
    spectator, onlooker, watcher, looker-on, fly on the wall, viewer, witness, eyewitness, bystander, sightseer
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    1. 1.1 A person who follows events, especially political ones, closely and comments publicly on them.
      ‘some observers expect interest rates to rise’
      • ‘Astute observers commented on this trend to eliminate force even before the emergence of relativity and quantum mechanics.’
      • ‘During our concise conversation, Conrad proves to be a sharp observer and commentator on the game.’
      • ‘The more atavistic commentators and observers demand a perpetual exclusion of Sinn Féin from the process.’
      • ‘That it could generate such serious commentary by observers is perhaps an unprecedented phenomenon in the history of mainland Chinese entertainment programs.’
      • ‘The right-wing law and order legislation contained in the speech led a number of observers to comment on the dangers of the development of a police state in Britain.’
      • ‘Many observers and commentators have wondered why it has taken so long for the Coalition and the provisional government to act.’
      • ‘But analysts and observers who followed the six-week trial of the men say the proceedings failed to shed light on the claimed plot and that little hard evidence was introduced in court.’
      • ‘We expected observers to use the public information available to them and thus prefer the ‘rich’ patch.’
      • ‘Religious persecution in that country is a matter of public record and the subject of frequent comment from human rights observers and even from the U.S. State Department.’
      • ‘Some observers said the comments could merely be part of an attempt by the attorney general to generate sympathy and thus boost his candidacy.’
      • ‘Interested observers and commentators might more usefully examine in more detail the results, rather than the personalities of the Police.’
      • ‘Many observers commented on Stalin's timelessness and ubiquity.’
      • ‘Some astute observers commented that sending the abortion ship to the shores of Poland smacked of patronizing neo-colonialism.’
      • ‘But, as observers have often commented, there is an extra element to them, an X-factor, a force that makes them more than the sum of their considerable parts.’
      • ‘With no personal stake in the performance scene, Priyambada continues to be one of the most objective observers and commentators of the Odissi scene.’
      • ‘Some observers say that comment, which got widespread coverage in the French media, planted the seeds of the current violence.’
      • ‘No one has represented the divided self better-the analyst, the observer, the commentator who serves as witness of the one who has come through.’
      • ‘The policy behind the section is greater accountability: observers and commentators will be able to see the reasoning behind particular decisions on monetary policy and how each member voted.’
      • ‘Some observers have commented that private certifiers could become the employees of territorial local authorities.’
      • ‘Pakistani observers commented yesterday that it would be difficult for an African to set up home in Gujrat, where foreigners are not so common, without attracting attention.’
      critic, commentator, connoisseur, judge, pundit, analyst, arbiter
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    2. 1.2 A person posted to an area in an official capacity to monitor political or military events.
      ‘elections scrutinized by international observers’
      • ‘Egypt does not allow international observers to monitor its elections.’
      • ‘There's still time for you to vote on our Web question of the week: Should international observers monitor the U.S. presidential election?’
      • ‘Annan says robust monitoring by international observers will be key to resolving the devastating conflict.’
      • ‘Also, it is reported today that for the first time the government has asked international observers to monitor the last week of the election campaign.’
      • ‘Although it is a closed military area, observers from the African Union have identified it as a base for 900 rebel fighters.’
      • ‘Apparently, the Congressional Black Caucus has gotten their wish, and international observers will monitor the presidential election.’
      • ‘Critics have said that the Commission - which had international observers and monitors - has been too harsh on the State.’
      • ‘The Times has learnt that the Government has, for the first time in a general election, invited international observers to monitor the last week of the campaign.’
      • ‘In November, Mr Smith was in Gibraltar as a member of the international observer team monitoring the referendum on sovereignty in which Gibraltarians voted to stay under British rule.’
      • ‘The idea that some people might take away from this - that we are a Third-World nation to have international observers monitoring our elections.’
      • ‘‘There might be international observers but not monitors, and they will have no role in supervising elections,’ Sorour added.’
      • ‘The troops were airlifted to Darfur to protect unarmed military observers monitoring a ceasefire between government forces and rebels.’
      • ‘The international observers sent to monitor the vote in fact didn't set foot in the country and ‘observed’ from Amman in Jordan.’
      • ‘Musa is Amnesty International's official observer of the Military Commission trials at the bay.’
      • ‘Some 12 British MPs and a small number of international observers will monitor the votes as they are cast across the North and South Islands.’
      • ‘A team of international observers was monitoring the vote amid claims by opposition and human rights workers that the election was being manipulated.’
      • ‘Some additional requirements are placed on the officer personnel sent to UN missions in capacity of military observers.’
      • ‘Nazif also said his government is not opposed to reputable international observers monitoring the elections if the public accepts such monitoring.’
      • ‘Not only that, the IRA has already put some of its weapons beyond use as overseen by official international observers.’
      • ‘Rice also insisted that international monitors and observers be allowed access to Egyptian presidential and parliamentary elections later this year.’
      watchdog, overseer, invigilator, supervisor
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    3. 1.3 A person who attends a conference, inquiry, etc., to note the proceedings without participating in them.
      • ‘His present partner attends but is an observer not a participant.’
      • ‘The carrier wants $950 million in overall concessions and says the mechanics are refusing to attend meetings unless observers are present.’
      • ‘The observers attended formal treatment sessions, but did not actively participate in the meetings themselves.’
      • ‘NGOs are allowed to participate in meetings as observers only if they are concerned with matters within the competence of the relevant organ or organization.’
      • ‘The draw took place in Bank House on Sunday, November 7 and the organisers would also like to thank Mr Donnell who acted as an independent observer at the proceedings.’
      • ‘Ambassador Niinioja said two officials from Finland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs attended the talks as observers.’
      • ‘Widespread ballot box stuffing was reported, and election observers noted how pro-government forces gathered outside polling stations intimidating voters.’
      • ‘Singaporean delegates will attend as observers, which will also discuss cultures that influence the use of language.’
      • ‘Mr Khan said he and three other observers had attended the opening of the postal ballot papers at the Hilton Hotel, Bradford, on April 30.’
      • ‘Those attending the hearing as observers included representatives of the Tripoli diplomatic missions of the United States, the Czech Republic and Canada.’
      • ‘Accredited organisations are invited to participate as observers in the meetings.’
      • ‘Both regulars and guests from previous episodes attend the trial as observers or character witnesses.’
      • ‘Not only that, but many observers noted that the low turn-out on elections day may be put down to the apathy of many potential voters.’
      • ‘In addition to the mediators, 19 figures representing numerous groups who attended the meeting as observers, also witnessed the signing of the peace deal.’
      • ‘His future wife was able to attend the Conference as an observer.’
      • ‘Mr and Mrs Taylor have also discovered that they are too late to object to the plan and can now only attend the inquiry as observers.’
      • ‘Non-government organisations (NGOs) use their ability to sit as observers in conferences of all kinds, around the world, to urge their own agenda on the people who must abide by the rules that are set.’
      • ‘Also attending as observers / supporters were representatives of labor organizations from Washington State, Canada, and Brazil.’
      • ‘These sessions are open to amateur and professional students of all ages, and also to non-musicians who can attend as observers.’
      • ‘In 1969, they participated as observers in a world congress of the United Secretariat, which decided to pursue a rural guerrilla tactic in Latin America.’