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

      

    see

     verb
    verb
    BrE BrE//siː//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//siː//
     
    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they see
    BrE BrE//siː//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//siː//
     
    he / she / it sees
    BrE BrE//siːz//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//siːz//
     
    past simple saw
    BrE BrE//sɔː//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//sɔː//
     
    past participle seen
    BrE BrE//siːn//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//siːn//
     
    -ing form seeing
    BrE BrE//ˈsiːɪŋ//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈsiːɪŋ//
     
     
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    use eyes
  1. 1  [transitive, intransitive] (not used in the progressive tenses) to become aware of somebody/something by using your eyes see (somebody/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 somebody/something + adj. I hate to see you unhappy. see somebody/something doing something She was seen running away from the scene of the crime. see somebody/something do something I saw you put the key in your pocket. somebody/something is seen to do something He was seen to enter the building about the time the crime was committed. Synonymsseespot catch glimpseThese words all mean to become aware of somebody/​something by using your eyes, especially suddenly or when it is not easy to see them/​it.see to become aware of somebody/​something by using your eyes:She looked for him but couldn’t see him in the crowd. He could see (that) she had been crying.spot to see or notice somebody/​something, especially suddenly or when they are not easy to see or notice:I’ve 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.glimpse (literary) to see somebody/​something for a moment, but not clearly or completely:He’d glimpsed her through the window as he passed.Patterns to see/​spot that/​how/​what/​where/​who… to suddenly see/​spot/​catch/​glimpse somebody/​something
  2. 2  [intransitive] (not usually used in the progressive tenses) to have or use the power of sight She will never see again (= she has become blind). On a clear day you can see for miles from here. see to do something It was getting dark and I couldn't see to read.
  3. watch
  4. 3  [transitive] (not usually used in the progressive tenses) see something to watch a game, television programme, performance, etc. Did you see that programme on Brazil last night? In the evening we went to see a movie. Fifty thousand people saw the match. 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
  5. look up information
  6. 4  [transitive] (used in orders) see something to look at something in order to find information See page 158.
  7. meet by chance
  8. 5  [transitive] see somebody (not usually used in the progressive tenses) to be near and recognize somebody; to meet somebody by chance Guess who I saw at the party last night!
  9. visit
  10. 6  [transitive] see somebody to visit somebody Come and see us again soon.
  11. have meeting
  12. 7  [transitive] see somebody (about something) to have a meeting with somebody You 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.
  13. spend time
  14. 8  [transitive] (often used in the progressive tenses) see somebody to spend time with somebody Are 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.
  15. understand
  16. 9  [intransitive, transitive] (not usually used in the progressive tenses) to understand something ‘It opens like this.’ ‘Oh, I see.’ see something He 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 something The government not only has to do something, it must be seen to be doing something (= people must be aware that it is doing something). Synonymsunderstandsee 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 somebody 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 still don’t understand much about the disease.see to understand what is happening, what somebody is saying, how something works or how important something is:‘It opens like this.’ ‘Oh, I see.’ Oh yes, I see what you mean.get (informal) to understand a joke, what somebody 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. 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, idea or reason:The concept of infinity is almost impossible for the human mind to comprehend.Patterns to understand/​see/​get/​follow/​grasp/​comprehend what/​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/​comprehend to fully understand/​see/​grasp/​comprehend something
  17. have opinion
  18. 10  [transitive] see something + adv./prep. (not usually used in the progressive tenses) to have an opinion of something I 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. Synonymsregardcall find consider see viewThese words all mean to think about somebody/​something in a particular way.regard to think of somebody/​something in a particular way: He seemed to regard the whole thing as a joke.call to say that somebody/​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 your illness hard to accept.consider to think of somebody/​something in a particular way: Who 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 somebody/​something to be something or consider somebody/​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 somebody/​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 somebody/​something as something; the as cannot be left out: I regard him a close friend. You cannot regard somebody/​something to be something or regard that somebody/​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 (somebody/​something is highly regarded) or adverbial phrase (regard somebody/​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 somebody/​something in a particular way: How do you view your position within the company? View has the same meaning as regard and consider but is slightly less frequent and slightly less formal. The main structures are view somebody/​something as somebody/​something (you cannot leave out the as) and view somebody/​something with something.Patterns to regard/​consider/​see/​view somebody/​something as something to regard/​consider/​see/​view somebody/​something from a particular point of view to find/​consider somebody/​something to be something generally/​usually regarded/​considered/​seen/​viewed as something to regard/​consider/​view somebody/​something favourably/​unfavourably
  19. imagine
  20. 11  [transitive] (not used in the progressive tenses) to consider something as a future possibility; to imagine somebody/something as something see somebody/something doing something I can't see her changing her mind. see somebody/something as something His colleagues see him as a future director. Synonymsimaginethink see envisage envisionThese words all mean to form an idea in your mind of what somebody/​something might be like.imagine to form an idea in your mind of what somebody/​something might be like:The house was just as she had imagined it.think to imagine something that might happen or might have happened:We couldn’t think where you’d gone. Just think—this time tomorrow we’ll be lying on a beach.see to consider something as a future possibility; to imagine somebody as something:I can’t see her changing her mind. His colleagues see him as a future director.envisage (especially British English) to imagine what will happen in the future:I don’t envisage working with him again. The usual word for this in American English is envision (see below).envision to imagine what a situation will be like in the future, especially a situation that you intend to work towards:They envision an equal society, free from poverty and disease. Envision is used especially in business and political contexts. In North American English it is also used as another form of the word envisage:I don’t envision working with him again.Patterns to imagine/​see/​envisage/​envision somebody/​something as something to imagine/​see/​envisage/​envision (somebody) doing something to imagine/​think/​see/​envisage/​envision who/​what/​how… to imagine/​think/​envisage/​envision that…
  21. find out
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. make sure
  25. 14[transitive] (not usually used in the progressive tenses) see that… to make sure that you do something or that something is done See that all the doors are locked before you leave. Could you see that the kids are in bed by 8 o'clock?
  26. experience
  27. 15[transitive] (not used in the progressive tenses) see something to experience or suffer something He 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.
  28. witness event
  29. 16[transitive] (not used in the progressive tenses) see something to be the time when an event happens Next year sees the centenary of Mahler's death.
  30. 17[transitive] (not used in the progressive tenses) see something to be the place where an event happens synonym witness This stadium has seen many thrilling football games.
  31. help
  32. 18[transitive] see somebody + adv./prep. to go with somebody to help or protect them I 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).
  33. Word Originverb Old English sēon, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zien and German sehen, perhaps from an Indo-European root shared by Latin sequi ‘follow’.Extra examples ‘Has the post 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.’ A dolphin? Oh, let me see! Aren’t you pleased to see me? Can’t you see the joke? Don’t worry, I’ll see you home. Economists expect to see the trend continue. He came over to see me after my surgery. He came over to see what was going on. He didn’t live to see his grandchildren. He saw first-hand the impact of colonialism. He turned and saw her smile. He was surprised to see Lucy standing there. I can see why you were so angry about it. I can’t see the point of doing that. I can’t wait to see his face! I could hardly see because of the smoke. I could see the boat clearly now. I don’t see why she should get more money than the others. I fail to see how this idea will help anyone. I finally got to see them in concert. I know it’s hard to believe but I saw it with my own eyes. I looked up, only to see Tommy chatting to someone. I never thought I’d live to see this day! I want to see how they’ll react. I went to see a movie. I’d love to see her win the gold medal. I’m glad to see that you’re keeping well. I’m here to see Lisa Daniels. It is difficult to see how to get around this problem. It’s nice to see the children playing together. Let me see the evidence! Let’s see what happens. Logan came around to see me about a job. She claims that she can see into the future. She turned to see who it was. She went to see the doctor about it. She’s gone to see the mechanic about getting her car repaired. The star is bright enough to see with the naked eye. This problem is commonly seen in young adults. Veronica came to see him in prison. We could just see the hotel in the distance. We expect to see an increase of 50 - 60%. We’ll have to wait to see if sales hold up. You can see at a glance if all is well. ‘It opens like this.’ ‘ Oh, I see.’ Can’t you see that he’s taking advantage of you? Come and see us again soon! Did you see that documentary about Brazil last night? Fifty thousand people saw the game. He doesn’t see how important this is. He said he’d been to see his sister. I can’t see her changing her mind. I don’t quite see what he’s getting at. I don’t see that it matters what he thinks. I don’t think she saw the point of the story. I’ve come to see Ben. If you watch carefully, you’ll see how it is done. Lack of money is the main problem, as I see it. Oh yes, I see what you mean. She looked for him but couldn’t see him in the crowd. The opera was the place to see and be seen. The way I see it, you have three main problems. When was the last time you saw a dentist? You see, she only heard about the plan yesterday. You should go and see a doctor.Idioms Most idioms containing see are at the entries for the nouns and adjectives in the idioms, for example not see the wood for the trees is at wood. 
    for all (the world) to see
     
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    clearly visible; in a way that is clearly visible
     (informal) used when you are thinking or trying to remember something Now let me see—how old is she now? 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 somebody/something for what they are/it is
     
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    to realize that somebody/something is not as good, pleasant, etc. as they/it seem
    to find out or look at something yourself in order to be sure that what somebody is saying is true If you don't believe me, go and see for yourself!
    seeing that…(informal seeing as (how)…)
     
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    because of the fact that… Seeing that he's been off sick all week he's unlikely to come.
    see you (around), (I’ll) be seeing you, see you later
     
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    (informal) goodbye I'd better be going now. See you!
     (informal) used when you are explaining something You see, the thing is, we won't be finished before Friday.
    Phrasal Verbssee about somethingsee something in somebodysee somebodyoffsee somebodyoutsee somethingoutsee over somethingsee through somebodysee something throughsee somebody throughsee to somethingsee to it that…
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: see