Definition of watchman in US English:



  • 1A man employed to look after an empty building, especially at night.

    ‘a night watchman’
    • ‘The watchman phoned the emergency services and other colleagues after the alarm activated.’
    • ‘As a result, there are over a hundred security companies supplying bodyguards and watchmen for those that can afford it.’
    • ‘Though it is the house of the First Citizen of India, it doesn't have any security personnel, or even a watchman to monitor the visitors, much to their surprise and disbelief.’
    • ‘In an attempt to control the situation, the university posted armed watchmen at the doors of all open washrooms.’
    • ‘The beam of a flashlight plays across the glass in the door, but by the time the watchmen walks by the office is empty.’
    • ‘For here's a little detail you don't know: the brothers are children of the building's watchman.’
    • ‘The fences and barriers, speed bumps and empty watchmen's huts are the trappings of wealth, the buffers of avarice.’
    • ‘She immediately turned her attention towards the entrance to find a being that was not the security watchman.’
    • ‘Even hostels come with curfews, watchmen, wardens especially when they house girls.’
    • ‘The watchman who was working the second shift said he came early to relieve the first.’
    • ‘But in the last few weeks I have been talking to Mumbai citizens of less elevated status: office clerks and peons, cabdrivers, shopkeepers, watchmen.’
    • ‘For a moment I wondered if he secretly worked night shift as a watchman.’
    • ‘Only, there are these boys studying in there, this watchman spending the night in there.’
    • ‘The watchman from the previous night caught my eyes and I knew that brushing it off as a simple misunderstanding wasn't a possibility.’
    • ‘That was back in 1979, and he made his debut as a scriptwriter for an offbeat movie about ‘a watchman in a graveyard, and his interaction with death’.’
    • ‘When no one answered, they broke in and searched the building, only to find a watchman sleeping at his post.’
    • ‘Half-seen in a corner of the lobby, three watchmen in greatcoats crouch over a brazier.’
    • ‘You see during the night the watchman kind of maybe fell asleep and some raiders stole the carriage.’
    • ‘Receiving a look from the watchman the gatekeeper knew the postman felt the same.’
    • ‘Police said they were… alarmed by the mysterious disappearance of uniforms belonging to janitors, watchmen and others from local laundries and dry cleaners.’
    security guard, security man, guard, custodian, doorman
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1historical A member of a body of people employed to keep watch in a town at night.
      • ‘The watchmen were the forerunners of today's police force.’
      • ‘If you stay long enough, you will hear mournful strains from a lone bugle - it is played every hour in memory of the watchman whose trumpeted warning of an invasion was silenced by a Turkish arrow.’
      • ‘Additionally all towns of any size employed watchmen, but even in the largest their complement seldom ran to three figures.’
      • ‘During the night, watchmen in the town watched lights flicker all over the mountain in the distance.’
      • ‘Several of the watchmen came down from the towers to confer with the king and his knights inside the castle.’
      guard, watch, sentry, sentinel, night watchman, scout, picket
      View synonyms