synonyms, antonyms, definitions, examples & translations of observe in English

English Online Dictionary. What means observe‎? What does observe mean?



From Middle French observer, from Old French [Term?], from Latin observare (to watch, note, mark, heed, guard, keep, pay attention to, regard, comply with, etc.), from ob (before) + servare (to keep), from Proto-Indo-European *serw- (to guard). Cognate with Gothic 𐍃𐌰𐍂𐍅𐌰 (sarwa, weapons, armour), Old English searu (device, design, contrivance, art, cunning, craft, artifice, wile, deceit, stratagem, ambush, treachery, plot, trick, snare, ambuscade, cleverness, machine, engine, fabric, armor, equipment, arms).


  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /əbˈzɜːv/, (rare) /ɒbˈzɜːv/
  • (General American, Canada) enPR: əb-zûrvʹ, IPA(key): /əbˈzɝv/
  • Rhymes: -ɜː(ɹ)v
  • Hyphenation: ob‧serve


observe (third-person singular simple present observes, present participle observing, simple past and past participle observed)

  1. (transitive) To notice or view, especially carefully or with attention to detail.
    • 1892, Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb
      “One horse?” interjected Holmes. ¶ “Yes, only one.” ¶ “Did you observe the colour?”
  2. (transitive) To follow or obey the custom, practice, or rules (especially of a religion).
  3. (transitive) To take note of and celebrate (a holiday or similar occurrence); to follow (a type of time or calendar reckoning).
    • Ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread.
    • 2020 (March 7), Jackie Dunham, "Daylight time: How to get enough sleep when the clocks spring forward, CTV News:
      On Sunday, most of Canada will observe daylight time and spring forward an hour in order to reflect the increasing sunlight.
  4. (intransitive) To comment on something; to make an observation.
    • Elbows almost touching they leaned at ease, idly reading the almost obliterated lines engraved there. ¶ "I never understood it," she observed, lightly scornful. "What occult meaning has a sun-dial for the spooney? I'm sure I don't want to read riddles in a strange gentleman's optics."


  • (follow a custom): celebrate

Derived terms


Further reading

  • observe in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.
  • observe in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911.


  • obverse, verbose




  1. first-person singular present indicative of observer
  2. third-person singular present indicative of observer
  3. first-person singular present subjunctive of observer
  4. third-person singular present subjunctive of observer
  5. second-person singular imperative of observer




  1. first-person singular present subjunctive of observar
  2. third-person singular present subjunctive of observar
  3. first-person singular imperative of observar
  4. third-person singular imperative of observar



  • IPA(key): [obˈserve]



  1. third-person singular present subjunctive of observa
  2. third-person plural present subjunctive of observa




  1. Formal second-person singular (usted) imperative form of observar.
  2. First-person singular (yo) present subjunctive form of observar.
  3. Formal second-person singular (usted) present subjunctive form of observar.
  4. Third-person singular (él, ella, also used with usted?) present subjunctive form of observar.

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This article based on an article on Wiktionary. The list of authors can be seen in the page history there. The original work has been modified. This article is distributed under the terms of this license.