Definition of see verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



, seen

use eyes

1 [transitive, intransitive] (not used in the progressive tenses) to become aware of someone or something by using your eyes see (someone/something)She looked for him but couldn't see him in the crowd.I looked out of the window but saw nothing.The opera was the place to see and be seen (= by other important or fashionable people). see (that)…He could see (that) she had been crying. see what, how, etc.…Did you see what happened?If you watch carefully, you'll see how it is done. see someone/something + adjectiveI hate to see you unhappy. see someone/something doing somethingShe was seen running away from the scene of the crime. see someone/something do somethingI saw you put the key in your pocket. someone/something is seen to do somethingHe was seen to enter the building about the time the crime was committed.2 [intransitive] (not usually used in the progressive tenses) to have or use the power of sightShe will never see again (= she has become blind).On a clear day you can see for miles from here. see to do somethingIt was getting dark and I couldn't see to read.


3 [transitive] (not usually used in the progressive tenses) see something to watch a game, television program, performance, etc.Did you see that program on Brazil last night?In the evening we went to see a movie.Fifty thousand people saw the championship.

look up information

4 [transitive] (used in orders) see something to look at something in order to find informationSee page 158.

meet by chance

5 [transitive] see someone (not usually used in the progressive tenses) to be near and recognize someone; to meet someone by chanceGuess who I saw at the party last night!


6 [transitive] see someone to visit someoneCome and see us again soon.

have meeting

7 [transitive] see someone (about something) to have a meeting with someoneYou ought to see a doctor about that cough.What is it you want to see me about?I can only see you for five minutes.

spend time

8 [transitive] (often used in the progressive tenses) see someone to spend time with someoneAre you seeing anyone (= having a romantic relationship with anyone)?They've been seeing a lot of each other (= spending a lot of time together) recently.


9 [intransitive, transitive] (not usually used in the progressive tenses) to understand something“It opens like this.” “Oh, I see.” see somethingHe didn't see the joke.I don't think she saw the point of the story.I can see both sides of the argument.Make Lydia see reason (= be sensible), will you? see (that)…Can't you see (that) he's taking advantage of you?I don't see that it matters what Josh thinks. see what, why, etc.…“It's broken.” “Oh yes, I see what you mean.”“Can we go swimming?” “ I don't see why not (= yes, you can).” be seen to do somethingThe government not only has to do something, it must be seen to be doing something (= people must be aware that it is doing something).

have opinion

10 [transitive] see something + adverb/preposition (not usually used in the progressive tenses) to have an opinion of somethingI see things differently now.Try to see things from her point of view.Lack of money is the main problem, as I see it (= in my opinion).The way I see it, you have three main problems.


11 [transitive] (not used in the progressive tenses) to consider something as a future possibility; to imagine someone or something as something see someone/something doing somethingI can't see her changing her mind. see someone/something as somethingHer colleagues see her as a future director.

find out

12 [intransitive, transitive] (not usually used in the progressive tenses) to find out something by looking, asking, or waiting“Has the mail come yet?” “I'll just go and see.”“Is he going to get better?” “I don't know, we'll just have to wait and see.”We'll have a great time, you'll see. see what, how, etc.…Go and see what the kids are doing, will you?We'll have to see how it goes. see (that)I see (that) interest rates are going up again. it is seen that…It can be seen that certain groups are more at risk than others.13 [intransitive, transitive] (not usually used in the progressive tenses) to find out or decide something by thinking or considering“Will you be able to help us?” “I don't know, I'll have to see.”“Can I go to the party?” “ We'll see (= I'll decide later).” see what, whether, etc.…I'll see what I can do to help.

make sure

14 [transitive] (not usually used in the progressive tenses) see that… to make sure that you do something or that something is doneSee that all the doors are locked before you leave.Could you see that the kids are in bed by 8 o'clock?


15 [transitive] (not used in the progressive tenses) see something to experience or suffer somethingHe has seen a great deal in his long life.I hope I never live to see the day when computers finally replace books.It didn't surprise her—she had seen it all before.

witness event

16 [transitive] (not used in the progressive tenses) see something to be the time when an event happensThis year sees the centenary of Mahler's death.17 [transitive] (not used in the progressive tenses) see something to be the place where an event happens synonym witnessThis stadium has seen many thrilling football games.


18 [transitive] see someone + adverb/preposition to go with someone to help or protect themI saw the old lady across (= helped her cross) the road.May I see you home (= go with you as far as your house)?My secretary will see you out (= show you the way out of the building).
Most idioms containing see are at the entries for the nouns and adjectives in the idioms. For example, not see the forest for the trees is at forest. 

for all (the world) to see

clearly visible; in a way that is clearly visible
for all to seefor all the world to see

let me see/let's see

(informal) used when you are thinking or trying to remember somethingNow let me see—how old is she now?let me see seelet me let's see

see something coming

to realize that there is going to be a problem before it happens
We should have seen it coming. There was no way he could keep going under all that pressure.see coming

see for yourself

to find out or look at something yourself in order to be sure that what someone is saying is true
If you don't believe me, go and see for yourself!see for yourself

see someone/something for what they are/it is

to realize that someone or something is not as good, pleasant, etc. as they/it seem
see for what they are issee for what they it is

seeing that…

(also informal seeing as (how)…) because of the fact that…Seeing that he's been off sick all week he's unlikely to come.seeing that

see you (around)


(I'll) be seeing you


see you later

(informal) goodbyeI'd better be going now. See you!see yousee you around

you see

(informal) used when you are explaining somethingYou see, the thing is, we won't be finished before see

see about something

to deal with somethingI must see about (= prepare) lunch.He says he won't help, does he? Well, we'll soon see about that (= I will demand that he does help). [+ -ing]I'll have to see about getting that roof repaired.see about

see something in someone/something

to find someone or something attractive or interestingI don't know what she sees in him.see in

see someoneoff

1 to go to a station, an airport, etc. to say goodbye to someone who is starting a trip2 to defeat someone in a game, fight, etc.The home team saw off the challengers by 68 points to 47.see off

see somethingout

(not used in the progressive tenses) to reach the end or last until the end of somethingThey had enough fuel to see the winter out.He saw out his career in Denver.see out

see through someone/something

(not used in the progressive tenses) to realize the truth about someone or somethingWe saw through him from the start.I can see through your little game (= I am aware of the trick you are trying to play on me).see through

see something through

(not usually used in the progressive tenses) to not give up doing a task, project, etc. until it is finishedShe's determined to see the job through.see through

see someone through


see someone through something

(not used in the progressive tenses) to give help or support to someone for a particular period of timeHer courage and good humor saw her through.I only have $20 to see me through the week.see through

see to something

to deal with somethingWill you see to the arrangements for the next meeting?Don't worry— I'll see to it.We'll have to get that door seen to (= repaired).see to

see to it that…

to make sure that…Can you see to it that the fax goes this afternoon?see to it that
Usage noteUsage note: lookwatch 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 to look at someone or 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 program, 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 movie, etc: People came from all over the world to view her, see, or view?You can see/view a movie/program/show but you cannot:see/view television.View is more formal than see and is used especially in business contexts.observe (formal) to watch someone or something carefully, especially to learn more about them or it: The patients were observed over a period of several months.patternsto look/watch for someone/somethingto watch/observe what/who/how…to look (at)/watch/view/observe (someone/something) with amazement/surprise/disapproval, watch/see/view a movie/show/programto watch/see a game/fight/matchto look (at someone/something)/watch (someone/something)/observe someone/something carefully/closelyUsage noteUsage note: seespot catchThese words all mean to become aware of someone or something by using your eyes, especially suddenly or when it is not easy to see them/it.see to become aware of someone or something by using your eyes: She looked for him but couldn't see him in the crowd. He could see (that) she had been to see or notice someone or something, especially suddenly or when they are/it is not easy to see or notice: I just spotted a mistake on the front cover.catch to see or notice something for a moment, but not clearly or completely: She caught sight of a car in the distance. He caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror.patternsto suddenly see/spot/catch sight of someone/somethingUsage noteUsage note: understandsee get follow grasp comprehendThese words all mean to know or realize something, for example why something happens, how something works, or what something means.understand to know or realize the meaning of words, a language, what someone says, etc.; to know or realize how or why something happens, how it works, or why it is important: I don't understand the instructions. Doctors are just beginning to understand the causes of the disease.see to understand what is happening, what someone is saying, how something works, or how important something is: Ah ha—I see how it works now. Oh yes, I see what you mean.get (informal) to understand a joke, what someone is trying to tell you, or a situation that they are trying to describe: She didn't get the joke. I don't get you.follow to understand an explanation, a story, or the meaning of something: Sorry—I don't quite follow what you're saying. The plot is almost impossible to follow.grasp to come to understand a fact, an idea, or how to do something: They failed to grasp the importance of his words.understand or grasp?You can use understand or grasp for the action of realizing the meaning or importance of something for the first time: It's a difficult concept for children to understand/grasp. Only understand can be used to talk about languages, words, or writing:I don't grasp French/the instructions.comprehend (often used in negative statements) (formal) to understand a fact, an idea, or a reason: The concept of infinity is almost impossible for us to comprehend.patternsto understand/see/get/follow/grasp/comprehend what…to understand/see/get/grasp/comprehend why/how…to understand/see/grasp/comprehend that…to understand/see/get/grasp the point/idea (of something)to be easy/difficult/hard to understand/see/follow/grasp/comprehendto fully understand/see/grasp/comprehend somethingUsage noteUsage note: regardcall find consider see viewThese words all mean to think about someone or something in a particular way.regard to think of someone or something in a particular way: He seemed to regard the whole thing as a to say that someone or something has particular qualities or characteristics: I wouldn't call German an easy language.find to have a particular feeling or opinion about something: You may find his story hard to believe.consider to think of someone or something in a particular way: Whom do you consider (to be) responsible for the accident?regard or consider?These two words have the same meaning, but they are used in different patterns and structures. In this meaning, consider must be used with a complement or clause: you can consider someone/something to be something or consider someone/something as something, although very often the to be or as is left out: He considers himself an expert. They are considered a high-risk group. You can also consider that someone/something is something and again, the that can be left out.Regard is used in a narrower range of structures. The most frequent structure is regard someone/something as something; the as cannot be left out:I regard him a close friend. You cannot regard someone/something to be something or regard that someone/something is something. However, regard (but not consider in this meaning) can also be used without a noun or adjective complement but with just an object and adverb (someone/something is highly regarded) or adverbial phrase (regard someone/something with suspicion/jealousy/admiration).see to have an opinion of something: Try to see things from her point of view.view to think of someone or something in a particular way: How do you view your position within the company?note View has the same meaning as regard and consider but is slightly less frequent and slightly less formal. The main structures are view someone/something as someone/something (you cannot leave out the as) and view someone/something with something.patternsto regard/consider/see/view someone/something as somethingto regard/consider/see/view someone/something from a particular perspectiveto find/consider someone/something to be somethinggenerally/usually/often regarded/considered/seen/viewed as somethingto regard/consider/view someone/something favorably/unfavorablyUsage noteUsage note: imaginethink see envisionThese words all mean to form an idea in your mind of what someone or something might be like.imagine to form an idea in your mind of what someone or something might be like: The house was just as she had imagined it.think to imagine something that might happen: I can't think of a better place for a wedding. Just think —this time tomorrow we'll be lying on a beach.see to consider something as a future possibility; to imagine someone as something: I can't see her changing her mind. His colleagues see him as a future director.envision to imagine what a situation will be like in the future, especially a situation that you intend to work toward: They envision an equal society, free from poverty and disease. In ten years, I envision myself running my own business.note Envision is used especially in business and political contexts.patternsto imagine/see/envision someone/something as somethingto imagine/see/envision (someone) doing somethingto be able to imagine/think/see/envision who/what/how…to imagine/think/envision that…