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

  • intransitive v. To look or observe attentively or carefully; be closely observant: watching for trail markers.
  • intransitive v. To look and wait expectantly or in anticipation: watch for an opportunity.
  • intransitive v. To act as a spectator; look on: stood by the road and watched.
  • intransitive v. To stay awake at night while serving as a guard, sentinel, or watcher.
  • intransitive v. To stay alert as a devotional or religious exercise; keep vigil.
  • transitive v. To look at steadily; observe carefully or continuously: watch a parade.
  • transitive v. To keep a watchful eye on; guard: watched the prisoner all day.
  • transitive v. To observe the course of mentally; keep up on or informed about: watch the price of gold.
  • transitive v. To tend (a flock, for example). See Synonyms at tend2.
  • n. The act or process of keeping awake or mentally alert, especially for the purpose of guarding.
  • n. The act of observing closely or the condition of being closely observed; surveillance.
  • n. A period of close observation, often in order to discover something: a watch during the child's illness.
  • n. A person or group of people serving, especially at night, to guard or protect.
  • n. The post or period of duty of a guard, sentinel, or watcher.
  • n. Any of the periods into which the night is divided; a part of the night.
  • n. Nautical Any of the periods of time, usually four hours, into which the day aboard ship is divided and during which a part of the crew is assigned to duty.
  • n. Nautical The members of a ship's crew on duty during a specific watch.
  • n. Nautical A chronometer on a ship.
  • n. A period of wakefulness, especially one observed as a religious vigil.
  • n. A funeral wake.
  • n. A small portable timepiece, especially one worn on the wrist or carried in the pocket.
  • n. A flock of nightingales. See Synonyms at flock1.
  • watch out To be careful or on the alert; take care.
  • watch over To be in charge of; superintend.
  • idiom watch it To be careful: had to watch it when I stepped onto the ice.
  • idiom watch (one's) step To act or proceed with care and caution.
  • idiom watch (one's) step To behave as is demanded, required, or appropriate.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A portable or wearable timepiece.
  • n. A particular time period when guarding is kept.
  • n. A person or group of people who guard.
  • n. A group of sailors and officers aboard a ship or shore station with a common period of duty: starboard watch, port watch.
  • n. A period of time on duty, usually four hours in length; the officers and crew who tend the working of a vessel during the same watch. (FM 55–501).
  • n. The act of seeing, or viewing, for a period of time.
  • v. To be awake.
  • v. To look at, see, or view for a period of time.
  • v. To observe over a period of time; to notice or pay attention.
  • v. To mind, attend, or guard.
  • v. To be wary or cautious of.
  • v. To attend to dangers to or regarding.
  • v. To remain awake with a sick or dying person; to maintain a vigil
  • v. To be vigilant or on one's guard
  • v. To act as a lookout

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n.
  • n. The act of watching; forbearance of sleep; vigil; wakeful, vigilant, or constantly observant attention; close observation; guard; preservative or preventive vigilance; formerly, a watching or guarding by night.
  • n. One who watches, or those who watch; a watchman, or a body of watchmen; a sentry; a guard.
  • n. The post or office of a watchman; also, the place where a watchman is posted, or where a guard is kept.
  • n. The period of the night during which a person does duty as a sentinel, or guard; the time from the placing of a sentinel till his relief; hence, a division of the night.
  • n. A small timepiece, or chronometer, to be carried about the person, the machinery of which is moved by a spring.
  • n.
  • n. An allotted portion of time, usually four hour for standing watch, or being on deck ready for duty. Cf. Dogwatch.
  • n. That part, usually one half, of the officers and crew, who together attend to the working of a vessel for an allotted time, usually four hours. The watches are designated as the port watch, and the starboard watch.
  • intransitive v. To be awake; to be or continue without sleep; to wake; to keep vigil.
  • intransitive v. To be attentive or vigilant; to give heed; to be on the lookout; to keep guard; to act as sentinel.
  • intransitive v. To be expectant; to look with expectation; to wait; to seek opportunity.
  • intransitive v. To remain awake with any one as nurse or attendant; to attend on the sick during the night.
  • intransitive v. To serve the purpose of a watchman by floating properly in its place; -- said of a buoy.
  • transitive v. To give heed to; to observe the actions or motions of, for any purpose; to keep in view; not to lose from sight and observation.
  • transitive v. To tend; to guard; to have in keeping.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To assign to a watch.
  • To be awake; be or continue without sleep; keep vigil.
  • To be attentive, circumspect, or vigilant; be closely observant; notice carefully; give heed.
  • To act as a watchman, guard, sentinel, or the like; keep watch.
  • To look forward with expectation; be expectant; seek opportunity; wait.
  • To act as attendant or nurse on the sick by night; remain awake to give attendance, assistance, or the like: as, to watch with a patient in a fever.
  • To float on the surface of the water: said of a buoy.
  • To look with close attention at or on; keep carefully and constantly in view or supervision; keep a sharp lookout on or for; observe, notice, or regard with vigilance and care; keep an eye upon.
  • To have in keeping; tend; guard; take care of.
  • To look for; wait for.
  • To take or detect by lying in wait; surprise.
  • In falconry, to keep awake; keep from sleep, as a hawk, for the purpose of exhausting and taming it.
  • n. The state of being awake; wake-fulness.
  • n. A keeping awake for the purpose of attending, guarding, or preserving; attendance with out sleep; preservative or preventive vigilance; vigil.
  • n. A wake. See wake, n., 2.
  • n. Close, constant, observation; vigilant attention; careful, continued notice; supervision; vigilance; outlook: as, to be on the watch.
  • n. A person, or number of persons, whose duty it is to watch over the persons, property, or interests of others; a watchman, or body of watchmen; a sentinel; a sentry; guard.
  • n. The period of time during which one person or body of persons watch or stand sentinel, or the time from one relief of sentinels to another; hence, a division of the night, when the precautionary setting of a watch is most generally necessary; period of time; hour.
  • n. Nautical:
  • n. The period of time occupied by each part of a ship's crew alternately while on duty.
  • n. A certain part of the officers and crew of a vessel who together attend to working her for an allotted time.
  • n. Anything by which the progress of time is perceived and measured.
  • n. A small portable timepiece or timekeeper that may be worn on the person, operated by power stored in a coiled spring, and capable of keeping time when held in any position. Watches were invented at Nüremberg about the be ginning of the sixteenth century, and for a long time the wearing of a watch was considered in some degree a mark or proof of gentility. Thus Malvolio remarks in anticipation of his great fortune:
  • n. plural A name of the trumpetleaf, Sarracenia flava, probably alluding to the resemblance of the flowers to watches.
  • n. In pottery, a trial piece of clay so placed in a kiln that it can be readily withdrawn to enable the workmen to judge by its appearance of the heat of the fire and the condition of the ware remaining in the saggars.
  • n. In hawking, a company or flight, as of nightingales.

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

  • n. the rite of staying awake for devotional purposes (especially on the eve of a religious festival)
  • v. see or watch
  • n. a purposeful surveillance to guard or observe
  • v. look attentively
  • v. be vigilant, be on the lookout or be careful
  • n. a person employed to keep watch for some anticipated event
  • n. the period during which someone (especially a guard) is on duty
  • v. follow with the eyes or the mind
  • v. observe or determine by looking
  • v. find out, learn, or determine with certainty, usually by making an inquiry or other effort
  • n. a period of time (4 or 2 hours) during which some of a ship's crew are on duty
  • v. observe with attention
  • n. a small portable timepiece


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

Middle English wacchen, from Old English wæccan, to watch, be awake; see weg- in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

As a noun, from Middle English wacche, from Old English wæċċe. See below for verb form.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

As a verb, from Middle English wacchen, from Old English wæċċan (from the same root as its synonym and doublet wacian, which lead to wake in modern English), ultimately from Proto-Germanic *wakōnan, *wakjanan. Cognate with West Frisian weitsje ("to wake, watch"), Dutch waken ("to wake, watch"), German wachen ("to wake, watch").


  • In a man-of-war, and in some merchantmen, this alternation of watches is kept up throughout the twenty-four hours; but our ship, like most merchantmen, had “all hands” from twelve o’clock till dark, except in bad weather, when we had “watch and watch.

    Chapter III. Ship’s Duties-Tropics

  • If a watch, it can be said, "Your friends are growing a little suspicious of you, and, after due deliberation, they have determined to a place _a watch_ upon you."

    Toasts and Forms of Public Address for Those Who Wish to Say the Right Thing in the Right Way

  • When a spy was sent from Ghadames to watch the Shânbah and their approaches round the country, on the eve of my departure from that place, people went up a ruined tower, situated on a high ground, and apparently built specially for the purpose, _to watch_ the return of the spy.

    Travels in the Great Desert of Sahara, in the Years of 1845 and 1846

  • ~ where got real ... already said its fictional, how can be real. haben watch and dun intend to watch~ its NOT as great as its hyped while it can be some sort of a transition fun if theres nothing much else keen to go for at the moment or simply out of personal interest Reviews

  • -- _A Narrative, etc. _, by W. Bligh, 1790, pp. 23, 24.] {100} [121] [ "[As] our lodgings were very miserable and confined, I had only in my power to remedy the latter defect, by putting ourselves _at watch and watch_; so that _one half_ always sat up, while the other half

    The Works of Lord Byron. Vol. 6

  • Other friend, seeing the watch for the first time, sans time display: "* knocks on watch*

    Original Signal - Transmitting Gadgets

  • It is probable that the term watch was given to each of these divisions, from the practice of placing sentinels around the camp in time of war, or in cities, to watch or guard the camp or city, and that they were at first relieved three times in the night, but under the Romans four times.

    Barnes New Testament Notes

  • If you dont know the term watch the movie speechless.

    Original Signal - Transmitting Buzz

  • Do you really think that simply being in possession of this watch is the reason they are at Guantanamo?

    President Obama's Watch - Anil Dash

  • In the Lost world, a watch is almost useless, and the calendar strictly a suggestion.

    'Lost': When are we?


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  • In nautical terminology, the time a sentry stands watch or a ship's crew is on duty, equal to 4 hours on both land and sea. At sea, the evening watch is often divided into two shorter watches called dog watches. During dog watches, sailors' watch assignments rotate through the day instead of falling at the same hours every day. Watches at sea are divided into 8 bells (4 bells for dog watches).

    November 7, 2007