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A pocketwatch (timepiece)
A wristwatch (timepiece)


Etymology 1[edit]

As a noun, from Middle English wacche, from Old English wæċċe. See below for verb form.


watch (plural watches)

  1. A portable or wearable timepiece.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 2, The Celebrity:
      Sunning himself on the board steps, I saw for the first time Mr. Farquhar Fenelon Cooke. [] A silver snaffle on a heavy leather watch guard which connected the pockets of his corduroy waistcoat, together with a huge gold stirrup in his Ascot tie, sufficiently proclaimed his tastes.
    More people today carry a watch on their wrists than in their pockets.
  2. The act of guarding and observing someone or something.
    • Milton
      shepherds keeping watch by night
    • Addison
      All the long night their mournful watch they keep.
  3. A particular time period when guarding is kept.
    The second watch of the night began at midnight.
    • Shakespeare
      I did stand my watch upon the hill.
    • Milton
      Might we but hear [] / Or whistle from the lodge, or village cock / Count the night watches to his feathery dames.
  4. A person or group of people who guard.
    The watch stopped the travelers at the city gates.
    • Bible, Matthew xxvii. 65
      Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch; go your way, make it as sure as ye can.
  5. The post or office of a watchman; also, the place where a watchman is posted, or where a guard is kept.
    • Shakespeare
      He upbraids Iago, that he made him / Brave me upon the watch.
  6. (nautical) A group of sailors and officers aboard a ship or shore station with a common period of duty: starboard watch, port watch.
  7. (nautical) A period of time on duty, usually four hours in length; the officers and crew who tend the working of a vessel during the same watch. (FM 55–501).
  8. The act of seeing, or viewing, for a period of time.
    • 2004, Charles P. Nemeth, Criminal law
      A quick watch of Stanley Kubrick's Clockwork Orange sends this reality home fast. Amoral, vacuous, cold-blooded, unsympathetic, and chillingly evil describe only parts of the story.
Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Etymology 2[edit]

As a verb, from Middle English wacchen, from Old English wæċċan (from the same root as its synonym and doublet wacian, which lead to wake in modern English), ultimately from Proto-Germanic *wakōną, *wakjaną. Cognate with West Frisian weitsje (to wake, watch), Dutch waken (to wake, watch), German wachen (to wake, watch).


watch (third-person singular simple present watches, present participle watching, simple past and past participle watched)

  1. (obsolete, intransitive) To be awake.
    • 1485, Thomas Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur, Book X:
      So on the morne Sir Trystram, Sir Gareth and Sir Dynadan arose early and went unto Sir Palomydes chambir, and there they founde hym faste aslepe, for he had all nyght wacched [...].
  2. (transitive) To look at, see, or view for a period of time.
    Watching the clock will not make time go faster.
    I'm tired of watching TV.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 10, The Mirror and the Lamp:
      It was a joy to snatch some brief respite, and find himself in the rectory drawing–room. Listening here was as pleasant as talking; just to watch was pleasant. The young priests who lived here wore cassocks and birettas; their faces were fine and mild, yet really strong, like the rector's face; and in their intercourse with him and his wife they seemed to be brothers.
  3. (transitive) To observe over a period of time; to notice or pay attention.
    Watch this!
    Put a little baking soda in some vinegar and watch what happens.
  4. (transitive) To mind, attend, or guard.
    Please watch my suitcase for a minute.
    He has to watch the kids that afternoon.
    • 1899, Stephen Crane, chapter 1, Twelve O'Clock:
      […] (it was the town's humour to be always gassing of phantom investors who were likely to come any moment and pay a thousand prices for everything) — “[…] Them rich fellers, they don't make no bad breaks with their money. They watch it all th' time b'cause they know blame well there ain't hardly room fer their feet fer th' pikers an' tin-horns an' thimble-riggers what are layin' fer 'em. […]”
  5. (transitive) To be wary or cautious of.
    You should watch that guy. He has a reputation for lying.
  6. (transitive) To attend to dangers to or regarding.
    watch your head;  watch your step
    Watch yourself when you talk to him.
    Watch what you say.
  7. (intransitive) To remain awake with a sick or dying person; to maintain a vigil.
  8. (intransitive) To be vigilant or on one's guard.
    For some must watch, while some must sleep: So runs the world away.
  9. (intransitive) To act as a lookout.
  10. (nautical, of a buoy) To serve the purpose of a watchman by floating properly in its place.
Usage notes[edit]
  • When used transitively to mean look at something, there is an implication that the direct object is something which is capable of changing.
Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

See also[edit]

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