use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

Learn what the dictionary tells you about words.

Get Started Now!

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you enter them into the search window. If a compound term doesn’t appear in the drop-down list, try entering the term into the search window and then hit the search button (instead of the “enter” key). Alternatively, begin searches for compound terms with a quotation mark.

use-icon

THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. The Panelists are surveyed annually to gauge the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

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:

Indo-European Roots

Semitic Roots

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.

open-icon

OPEN DICTIONARY PROJECT

Share your ideas for new words and new meanings of old words!

Start Sharing Now!

100-words-icon

See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!

watch (wŏch)
Share:
v. watched, watch·ing, watch·es
v.intr.
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.
v.tr.
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.
n.
1. The act or process of keeping awake or mentally alert, especially for the purpose of guarding.
2.
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.
6. Nautical
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.
7.
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.
Phrasal Verbs:
watch out
To be careful or on the alert; take care.
watch over
To be in charge of; superintend.
Idioms:
watch it
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 ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.