English

Definition of observe verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

      

    observe

     verb
    verb
    BrE BrE//əbˈzɜːv//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//əbˈzɜːrv//
     
    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they observe
    BrE BrE//əbˈzɜːv//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//əbˈzɜːrv//
     
    he / she / it observes
    BrE BrE//əbˈzɜːvz//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//əbˈzɜːrvz//
     
    past simple observed
    BrE BrE//əbˈzɜːvd//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//əbˈzɜːrvd//
     
    past participle observed
    BrE BrE//əbˈzɜːvd//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//əbˈzɜːrvd//
     
    -ing form observing
    BrE BrE//əbˈzɜːvɪŋ//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//əbˈzɜːrvɪŋ//
     
     
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  1. 1  [transitive] (formal) to see or notice somebody/something observe somebody/something Have you observed any changes lately? All the characters in the novel are closely observed (= seem like people in real life). I want you to observe all the details. observe somebody/something do something The police observed a man enter the bank. observe somebody/something doing something They observed him entering the bank. observe that… She observed that all the chairs were already occupied. be observed to do something He was observed to follow her closely. This pattern is only used in the passive. Synonymscommentnote remark observeThese words all mean to say or write a fact or opinion.comment to express an opinion or give facts about something:He refused to comment until after the trial.note (rather formal) to mention something because it is important or interesting:He noted in passing that the company’s record on safety issues was not good.remark to say or write what you have noticed about a situation:Critics remarked that the play was not original.observe (formal) to say or write what you have noticed about a situation:She observed that it was getting late.comment, remark or observe? If you comment on something you say something about it; if you remark on something or observe something, you say something about it that you have noticed: there is often not much difference between the three. However, while you can refuse to comment (without on), you cannot ‘refuse to remark’ or ‘refuse to observe’ (without on):He refused to remark/​observe until after the trial.Patterns to comment/​note/​remark/​observe that… to comment on/​note/​remark/​observe how… to comment/​remark on something to comment/​remark/​observe to somebody ‘It’s long,’ he commented/​noted/​remarked/​observed. Synonymsnoticenote detect observe witnessThese words all mean to see something, especially when you pay careful attention to it.notice to see, hear or become aware of somebody/​something; to pay attention to somebody/​something:The first thing I noticed about the room was the smell.note (rather formal) to notice or pay careful attention to something:Please note (that) the office will be closed on Monday. This word is very common in business English:Note that the prices are inclusive of VAT.detect to discover or notice something, especially something that is not easy to see, hear, etc:The tests are designed to detect the disease early.observe (formal) to see or notice somebody/​something:Have you observed any changes lately? The police observed a man enter the bank.witness (rather formal) to see something happen:Police have appealed for anyone who witnessed the incident to contact them.Patterns to notice/​note/​detect/​observe that/​how/​what/​where/​who… to notice/​observe/​witness something happen/​somebody do something
  2. 2  [transitive, intransitive] (formal) to watch somebody/something carefully, especially to learn more about them synonym monitor observe (somebody/something) I felt he was observing everything I did. The patients were observed over a period of several months. He observes keenly, but says little. observe how, what, etc… They observed how the parts of the machine fitted together. Synonymslookwatch see view observeThese words all mean to turn your eyes in a particular direction.look to turn your eyes in a particular direction:If you look carefully you can just see our house from here. She looked at me and smiled.watch to look at somebody/​something for a time, paying attention to what happens:to watch television Watch what I do, then you try.see to watch a game, television programme, performance, etc:In the evening we went to see a movie.view (formal) to look at something, especially when you look carefully; to watch television, a film/​movie, etc:People came from all over the world to view her work.watch, see or view?You can see/​view a film/​movie/​programme but you cannot:see/​view television. View is more formal than see and is used especially in business contexts.observe (formal) to watch somebody/​something carefully, especially to learn more about them or it:The patients were observed over a period of several months.Patterns to look/​watch for somebody/​something to watch/​observe what/​who/​how… to look/​watch/​view/​observe (somebody/​something) with amazement/​surprise/​disapproval, etc. to watch/​see/​view a film/​movie/​show/​programme to watch/​see a match/​game/​fight to look (at somebody/​something)/watch (somebody/​something)/observe somebody/​something carefully/​closely
  3. 3[transitive] observe that… | + speech (formal) to make a remark synonym comment She observed that it was getting late.
  4. 4[transitive] observe something to obey rules, laws, etc. Will the rebels observe the ceasefire? The crowd observed a minute's silence (= were silent for one minute) in memory of those who had died.
  5. 5[transitive] observe something (formal) to celebrate festivals, birthdays, etc. Do they observe Christmas?
  6. Word Origin late Middle English (in sense (5)): from Old French observer, from Latin observare ‘to watch’, from ob- ‘towards’ + servare ‘attend to, look at’.Extra examples ‘It’s easy to say that,’ she observed to Michael, ‘but can you prove it?’ ‘You took your time, ’ he observed coolly. A similar pattern was observed among Hispanics. Failure to observe club rules may result in expulsion. It is interesting to observe the reaction of the children to these changes. It is not possible to observe this phenomenon directly, but its effects can be seen in the rise in global temperatures. It is the parents who actually observe these behavioural problems in their children. She correctly observed that there was very little difference between the two parties on domestic policies. She stood there, quietly observing the domestic scene. The only certainties in this world, as Benjamin Franklin famously observed, are death and taxes. The patient should be observed for signs of an allergic reaction. This behaviour is commonly observed among several species of finch. This phenomenon has been observed experimentally. This procedure must be correctly observed. This ritual is commonly observed among several ethnic groups. You can learn a lot by simply observing. unaware that she was being observed from the window All the characters in the novel are closely observed. He was observed to enter the bank. I want you to observe all the details of the costumes. The Area Manager observed that takings were down and decided to pay a visit. We observed a two-minute silence for the victims of the bombing.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: observe