Observe is often used to mean “remark” or “comment.” When trying to start up a conversation with an attractive stranger, you might observe that it’s raining outside (but hopefully you’ll come up with something more interesting to say).

Observe has several secondary meanings, one of which is “notice” or “discover.” If you start a conversation with that attractive stranger, you’ll probably observe whether he or she seems interested in talking to you. Observe can also mean “watch carefully with great interest”; you might be tempted to observe the attractive stranger in this manner, but that might make him or her uncomfortable. Try to stay cool.

Definitions of observe
  1. verb
    watch attentively
    “Please observe the reaction of these two chemicals”
    see moresee less
    show 6 types...
    hide 6 types...
    bird, birdwatch
    watch and study birds in their natural habitat
    monitor, supervise
    keep tabs on; keep an eye on; keep under surveillance
    check, track, or observe by means of a receiver
    reconnoiter, reconnoitre, scout
    explore, often with the goal of finding something or somebody
    observe or plot the moving path of something
    sleuth, snoop, spy, stag
    watch, observe, or inquire secretly
    type of:
    look attentively
  2. verb
    observe with care or pay close attention to
    synonyms: note, take note
  3. verb
    follow with the eyes or the mind
    synonyms: follow, keep an eye on, watch, watch over
    follow, trace
    follow, discover, or ascertain the course of development of something
    see moresee less
    show 7 types...
    hide 7 types...
    keep tabs on
    keep a record on or watch attentively
    keep watch over
    invigilate, proctor
    watch over (students taking an exam, to prevent cheating)
    patrol, police
    maintain the security of by carrying out a patrol
    keep guard, stand guard, stand sentinel, stand watch
    watch over so as to protect
    baby-sit, sit
    work or act as a baby-sitter
    take watchful responsibility for
    type of:
    check, check into, check out, check over, check up on, go over, look into, suss out
    examine so as to determine accuracy, quality, or condition
  4. verb
    discover or determine the existence, presence, or fact of
    synonyms: detect, discover, find, notice
    discover, find
    make a discovery, make a new finding
    see moresee less
    show 5 types...
    hide 5 types...
    catch out, find out
    trap; especially in an error or in a reprehensible act
    detect some circumstance or entity automatically
    find an instance of (a word or particular usage of a word)
    discover traces of
    observe as if with an eye
    type of:
    sight, spy
    catch sight of; to perceive with the eyes
  5. verb
    make mention of
    “She observed that his presentation took up too much time”
    synonyms: mention, note, remark
    see moresee less
    show 4 types...
    hide 4 types...
    comment, notice, point out, remark
    make or write a comment on
    criticise, criticize, knock, pick apart
    find fault with; express criticism of; point out real or perceived flaws
    make a comment, usually ironic
    kibbitz, kibitz
    make unwanted and intrusive comments
    type of:
    say, state, tell
    express in words
  6. verb
    stick to correctly or closely
    synonyms: keep, maintain
  7. verb
    conform one's action or practice to
    synonyms: keep
    see moresee less
    breach, break, go against, infract, offend, transgress, violate
    act in disregard of laws, rules, contracts, or promises
    make good
    act as promised
  8. verb
    behave as expected during of holidays or rites
    Observe Yom Kippur”
    synonyms: celebrate, keep
    see moresee less
    commemorate, mark
    mark by some ceremony or observation
    observe the customs of mourning after the death of a loved one
    solemnise, solemnize
    observe or perform with dignity or gravity
  9. verb
    show respect towards
    synonyms: abide by, honor, honour, respect
    see moresee less
    show a lack of respect for
    celebrate, lionise, lionize
    assign great social importance to
    recognize and respect (rights and beliefs of others)
    type of:
    consider or hold as true
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week