v. watched, watch·ing, watch·es
1. To look or observe attentively or carefully; be closely observant: watching for trail markers.
2. To look and wait expectantly or in anticipation: watch for an opportunity.
3. To act as a spectator; look on: stood by the road and watched.
4. To stay awake at night while serving as a guard, sentinel, or watcher.
5. To stay alert as a devotional or religious exercise; keep vigil.
1. To look at steadily; observe carefully or continuously: watch a parade.
2. To guard, keep surveillance on, or spy on: watched the prisoner all day; watched the house to see who came and went.
3. To observe the course of mentally; keep up on or informed about: watch the price of gold.
4. To pay close attention to or be careful about, especially with regard to propriety: watched his manners.
5. To tend or take care of (children or a flock of sheep, for example). See Synonyms at tend2.
1. The act or process of keeping awake or mentally alert, especially for the purpose of guarding.
a. The act of observing closely or the condition of being closely observed; surveillance.
b. A period of close observation, often in order to discover something: a watch during the child's illness.
3. A person or group of people serving, especially at night, to guard or protect.
4. The post or period of duty of a guard, sentinel, or watcher.
5. Any of the periods into which the night is divided; a part of the night.
a. Any of the periods of time, usually four hours, into which the day aboard ship is divided and during which a part of the crew is assigned to duty.
b. The members of a ship's crew on duty during a specific watch.
c. A chronometer on a ship.
a. A period of wakefulness, especially one observed as a religious vigil.
b. A funeral wake.
8. A small portable timepiece, especially one worn on the wrist or carried in the pocket.
9. A flock of nightingales.
To be careful or on the alert; take care.
To be in charge of; superintend.
To be careful: had to watch it when I stepped onto the ice.
watch (one's) step
1. To act or proceed with care and caution.
2. To behave as is demanded, required, or appropriate.
[Middle English wacchen, from Old English wæccan, to watch, be awake; see weg- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.