Meaning of WATCH in English


I. watch 1 S1 W1 /wɒtʃ $ wɑːtʃ, wɒːtʃ/ BrE AmE verb

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ watch , ↑ watcher ; adjective : ↑ watchful , ↑ watchable ; verb : ↑ watch ]

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: wæccan ]

1 . LOOK [intransitive and transitive] to look at someone or something for a period of time, paying attention to what is happening:

Do you mind if I watch?

We sat and watched the sunset.

watch carefully/closely/intently etc

He watched helplessly as Paula fell into the icy water.

Watch carefully. You may learn something.

watch (somebody/something) with interest/amusement/delight etc

Harriet watched him with interest.

watch somebody/something do/doing something

I watched him go, then went home.

Ruth could not bear to watch her parents arguing.

watch to do something

I watched to see how he’d react.

watch television/a film etc

The debate was watched by 97 million viewers.

Most parents don’t know what their kids are watching on TV.

watch what/how/when etc

It’s useful to watch how other pilots handle the glider.

2 . BE CAREFUL [transitive] to act carefully in order to avoid an accident or unwanted situation

watch (that)

Watch he doesn’t run into the road.

She’s a student and has to watch her budget closely.

Watch your head on the shelf.

watch what/how/where etc

Silly old fool! Why doesn’t he watch where he’s going?

Watch what you’re doing! It’s spilling everywhere!

Watch yourself (=be careful) in Madrid; there are some rough areas.

watch what you say/your tongue/your language/your mouth etc (=be careful not to hurt or offend people by what you say)

Employees should watch what they say in personal emails.

watch your weight/watch what you eat (=be careful not to get fat)

He may be a former athlete, but he still has to watch his weight.

3 . PAY ATTENTION [transitive] to pay attention to a situation that interests or worries you to see how it develops

watch closely/carefully

American companies are watching Japanese developments closely.

The government will watch the progress of these schemes with interest.

4 . CARE FOR [transitive] to stay with someone or something so that nothing bad happens to them:

She watches the kids for us occasionally.

5 . SECRETLY [transitive] to secretly watch a person or place:

I feel like I’m being watched.

6 . watch your step informal to be careful, especially about making someone angry:

He soon saw he’d have to watch his step with some of these guys.

7 . watch your back informal to be careful because other people may try to harm you

8 . watch the clock informal to keep looking at the time because you are worried or bored:

anxious mums watching the clock

9 . watch the time to make sure you know what time it is to avoid being late

10 . watch it spoken used to warn someone to be careful:

Watch it, there’s a car.

11 . watch this space informal used to tell people to pay attention in the future because things are going to develop further – used especially in newspapers

12 . one to watch someone or something that people should pay attention to because they are interesting or exciting:

In the tournament so far, Italy’s Stefania Croce looks like the one to watch.

13 . watch the world go by to relax outside by just looking at the people around you:

lingering in a pavement café, watching the world go by

14 . you watch informal used to tell someone that you know what will happen:

He’ll win this time, you watch.

⇨ watch somebody like a hawk at ↑ hawk 1

• • •


■ nouns

▪ watch television

We watched television all evening.

▪ watch a programme/film/show

They were watching a film on TV.

■ adverbs

▪ closely

I watched him closely while he was giving his evidence.

▪ carefully

She watched very carefully and did exactly as he did.

▪ helplessly

He watched helplessly as his son was swept away by the waves.

▪ intently (=with a lot of attention)

Her father was watching her intently as she worked.

■ phrases

▪ with interest/amusement etc

A small crowd of people were watching them with interest.

▪ in horror/amazement etc

He watched in horror as the flames engulfed his house.

• • •


▪ watch to look at someone or something for a period of time and pay attention to what is happening:

They were all watching the game.


I watched him get out of his car.


We are watching carefully to see how the situation develops.

▪ keep an eye on somebody/something to watch someone or something carefully so that you are prepared if anything bad happens:

The doctors are keeping a careful eye on her.


Can you keep an eye on my bag for me?


Keep an eye on house prices before you decide to sell.

▪ observe to watch someone or something carefully in order to learn more about them:

A 24-hour camera is being used to observe the birds’ behaviour.


During your teacher training you will be encouraged to observe lessons.

▪ monitor to watch a situation carefully to see how it changes over a period of time:

Class teachers are responsible for monitoring the progress of each student.


Economists are monitoring the situation carefully.

▪ spy on somebody to watch someone secretly in order to find out what they are doing:

He hired a private detective to spy on her.


In the 1960s, government agencies were spying on everybody.

■ someone who watches something

▪ spectator someone who watches an event, especially a sports event:

There were 4,500 spectators at the game.


a crowd of spectators

▪ viewer someone who watches television:

Millions of television viewers listened to the President’s speech.


programmes for younger viewers

▪ audience the people who watch a play or performance, or the people who watch a particular television programme:

The audience roared with laughter and clapped.


It attracted a television audience of seven million.

▪ onlooker someone who watches something happening without being involved in it, especially in the street:

A man was standing on the roof, watched by a crowd of onlookers below.

▪ observer someone who watches and pays attention to particular situations and events, because they are interested in them, or it is their job:

She was a shrewd observer of human nature.


a political observer who writes for The Independent newspaper


The United Nations has sent military observers to the Sudan.

watch (out) for something phrasal verb

to pay close attention in a particular situation because you are expecting something to happen or you want to avoid something bad:

She stepped outside to watch for the cab.

What problems should I watch out for when buying an old house?

watch out phrasal verb informal

used to tell someone to be careful:

You’ll become an alcoholic if you don’t watch out.

watch over somebody phrasal verb

to protect someone so that they are not harmed:

There must have been an angel watching over me that day.

II. watch 2 S2 W3 BrE AmE noun

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ watch , ↑ watcher ; adjective : ↑ watchful , ↑ watchable ; verb : ↑ watch ]

1 . [countable] a small clock that you wear on your wrist or keep in your pocket:

My watch has stopped.

look at/glance at/consult your watch

She glanced nervously at her watch.

How do you keep track of time if you don’t wear a watch?

2 . [singular, uncountable] when you watch someone or something carefully, or pay careful attention to them, so that you are ready to act if necessary:

The police arrived to keep watch on the mouth of the tunnel.

watch on/over

He maintained a 24-hour watch over his son.

Security forces kept a close watch on our activities.

3 . keep a watch out for somebody/something ( also be on the watch for somebody/something ) to be looking and waiting for something that might happen or someone you might see, especially so that you can avoid danger, trouble etc:

Be on the watch for anything suspicious.

4 . [countable] a group of people whose job is to guard or protect someone or something:

We were arrested and held until the arrival of the night watch (=people responsible for keeping the streets safe at night, especially in past times) .

⇨ ↑ neighbourhood watch

5 . [uncountable and countable] a period of time when it is someone’s duty to stay somewhere and look for signs of danger:

The first watch is from now until midnight.

on watch

Who’s on watch tonight?

• • •


■ verbs

▪ look at/glance at your watch

I looked at my watch. It was 4.30.

▪ check/consult your watch

He checked his watch and saw that it was only 2.15.

▪ a watch says ...

My watch says twenty past one.

▪ put your watch forward (=make it show a later time)

The passengers were reminded to put their watches forward three hours.

▪ put your watch back (=make it show an earlier time)

On Saturday night, don’t forget to put your watch back an hour.

▪ set your watch (=make it show the correct time)

I set my watch by the clock on the mantelpiece.

▪ wear a watch

He wore a gold watch.

▪ a watch stops

Her watch had stopped after getting wet in the sea.

■ adjectives

▪ sb’s watch is fast/runs fast (=it shows a later time)

No, it’s only 12.15 – your watch must be fast.

▪ sb’s watch is slow/runs slow (=it shows an earlier time)

'He’s late.' 'Maybe his watch is running slow.'

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.