1. The act or practice of observing or complying with a law, custom, command, or rule.
2. The act or custom of keeping or celebrating a holiday or other ritual occasion.
3. A customary rite or ceremony.
4. The act of watching; observation: "Consider how much intellect was needed in the architect, and how much observance of nature" (John Ruskin).
5. Roman Catholic Church The rule governing a religious order.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 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.