Definition of observer noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//əbˈzɜːvə(r)//
    ; NAmE NAmE//əbˈzɜːrvər//
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  1. 1a person who watches somebody/something According to observers, the plane exploded shortly after take-off. To the casual observer (= somebody who does not pay much attention), the system appears confusing. Most art forms require a contribution from the observer. Synonymswitnessobserver onlooker passer-by bystander eyewitnessThese are all words for a person who sees something happen.witness a person who sees something happen and is able to describe it to other people; a person who gives evidence in a court of law:Police have appealed for witnesses to the accident.observer a person who sees something happen:According to observers, the plane exploded shortly after take-off.onlooker a person who watches something that is happening but is not involved in it:A crowd of onlookers gathered at the scene of the crash.passer-by a person who is going past somebody/​something by chance, especially when something unexpected happens:Police asked passers-by if they had witnessed the accident.bystander a person who is near and can see what is happening when something such as an accident or fight takes place:Three innocent bystanders were killed in the crossfire.eyewitness a person who has seen a crime or accident and can describe it afterwards.Patterns a witness/​an observer/​an onlooker/​a passer-by/​a bystander/​an eyewitness sees something an observer/​an onlooker/​a passer-by/​a bystander witnesses something
  2. 2a person who attends a meeting, lesson, etc. to listen and watch but not to take part A team of British officials were sent as observers to the conference.
  3. 3a person who watches and studies particular events, situations, etc. and is therefore considered to be an expert on them a royal observer
  4. Word Originmid 16th cent.: from observe + -er.Extra examples I attended the conference as an observer. Independent observers will monitor the elections. Observers were sent to check the conduct of the elections. Some military observers fear the US could get entangled in another war. The country was granted observer status at the summit. The suddenness of this move surprised many observers. The talks were attended by observers from eight Arab countries and Israel. To the casual observer, it would have looked like any other domestic argument. an observer of the American cultural scene Observers noted an absence of the violence which had been a feature of previous elections. To Western observers, their political system is strikingly different.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: observer

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