Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To be or become aware of, especially through careful and directed attention; notice.
  • transitive v. To watch attentively: observe a child's behavior.
  • transitive v. To make a systematic or scientific observation of: observe the orbit of the moon.
  • transitive v. To say casually; remark.
  • transitive v. To adhere to or abide by: observe the terms of a contract.
  • transitive v. To keep or celebrate (a holiday, for example): observe an anniversary.
  • intransitive v. To take notice.
  • intransitive v. To say something; make a comment or remark.
  • intransitive v. To watch or be present without participating actively: We were invited to the conference solely to observe.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To notice or view, especially carefully or with attention to detail.
  • v. To follow the custom, practice, or rules (especially of a religion.)
  • v. To comment on something; to make an observation.
  • v. To obey a law, rule or custom; comply with.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To take notice; to give attention to what one sees or hears; to attend.
  • intransitive v. To make a remark; to comment; to make an observation{3}; -- generally with on or upon.
  • transitive v. To take notice of by appropriate conduct; to conform one's action or practice to; to keep; to heed; to obey; to comply with
  • transitive v. To be on the watch respecting; to pay attention to; to notice with care; to see; to perceive; to notice; to discover
  • transitive v. To express as what has been noticed; to utter as a remark; to say in a casual or incidental way; to remark.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To regard with attention or careful scrutiny, as for the purpose of discovering and noting something; watch; take note of: as, to observe trifles with interest; to observe one's every movement.
  • Specifically To subject to systematic inspection and scrutiny for some scientific or practical purpose: as, to observe natural phenomena for the purpose of ascertaining their laws; to observe meteorological indications for the purpose of forecasting the weather. See observation, 3.
  • To see; perceive; notice; remark; hence, to detect; discover: as, we observed a stranger approaching; to observe one's uneasiness.
  • To notice and remark, or remark upon; refer to in words; say; mention: as, what did you observe?
  • To heed; regard; hence, to regard with respect and deference; treat with respectful attention or consideration; humor.
  • To adhere to and carry out in practice; conform to or comply with; obey: as, to observe the regulations of society; to observe the proprieties.
  • To keep with due ceremonies; celebrate: as, to observe a holiday; to observe the sabbath.
  • Synonyms To eye, survey, scrutinize.
  • Notice, Behold, etc. (see see).
  • Keep, etc. (see celebrate), regard, fulfil, conform to.
  • To be attentive; take note.
  • To remark; comment: generally with upon or on.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. observe with care or pay close attention to
  • v. watch attentively
  • v. show respect towards
  • v. conform one's action or practice to
  • v. follow with the eyes or the mind
  • v. stick to correctly or closely
  • v. make mention of
  • v. discover or determine the existence, presence, or fact of
  • v. behave as expected during of holidays or rites

Etymologies

Middle English observen, to conform to, from Old French observer, from Latin observāre, to abide by, watch : ob-, over; see ob- + servāre, to keep, watch.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French observer, 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  (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"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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Comments

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  • obSErvE

    April 24, 2008

  • Human beings like to observe the behavior of monkeys.

    April 14, 2007