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1. Closely observant or alert; vigilant: kept a watchful eye on the clock. See Synonyms at careful.
2. Archaic Not sleeping; awake.

watch′ful·ly adv.
watch′ful·ness n.




  1. Followed [by keeping eyes fixed on other person] … like someone studying a historical figure —Lawrence Durrell
  2. Had a way of looking around … as if hidden cameras were photographing her —Ann Beattie
  3. He watched her as a cat does a mouse —James Howell

    Of all the comparisons linked to watchfulness this is probably the most famous and enduring, dating back to 1624. In Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped it appears as “We sat at table like a cat and a mouse, each stealthily observing the other.”

  4. Hovering like an old bird over one egg —Eudora Welty
  5. (Each evening I) peered surreptitiously through the kitchen curtains, like a spinster keeping tab on her neighbors —W. P. Kinsella
  6. Vigilant as cat to steal cream —William Shakespeare
  7. Watched as if from a cat’s distance —Martin Cruz Smith
  8. Watched him like musicians watching the conductor —Wilfrid Sheed
  9. Watched … like a warden —Anon

    The warden comparison has gained considerable currency in the last decade or so. Two recent novels in which it appeared are Disturbances in the Field, by Lynne Sharon Schwartz: “Kept watch like a warden” and Riders, by Jilly Cooper: “Watching him like a warden.”

  10. Watched, like Indians at a corral —Etheridge Knight
  11. Watched me like a fish hawk —James Crumley
  12. Watched … tensely, like a spider lying in wait for the fly’s last drop of blood —Heinrich Böll
  13. (My mother) watches me for signs of bloom and decay, like a plant —Daphne Merkin
  14. Watchful as a ferret —R. Wright Campbell
  15. Watching me like a bloodhound after a convict —Shelby Hearon
  16. Watching [someone’s looks and moves] … with an attention as intense as if an ordeal involving my life depended on them —Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
  17. Watch (tensely) like a cat stationed near a bird feeder —Bobbie Ann Mason
  18. Watch … like a dead white moon —Ross Macdonald
  19. Watch … like a nursemaid —Nicholas Monsarrat
  20. Watch like one who fears robbing —William Shakespeare
  21. Watch like ravens on a tree branch —R. Wright Campbell
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.watchfulness - the process of paying close and continuous attentionwatchfulness - the process of paying close and continuous attention; "wakefulness, watchfulness, and bellicosity make a good hunter"; "vigilance is especially susceptible to fatigue"
attention - the faculty or power of mental concentration; "keeping track of all the details requires your complete attention"
jealousy - zealous vigilance; "cherish their official political freedom with fierce jealousy"-Paul Blanshard
2.watchfulness - vigilant attentivenesswatchfulness - vigilant attentiveness; "he keeps a weather eye open for trouble"
attentiveness - the trait of being observant and paying attention


The condition of being alert:
إحْتِراس، يَقْظَه


[ˈwɒtʃfʊlnɪs] Nvigilancia f


nWachsamkeit f


[ˈwɒtʃfʊlnɪs] nattenzione f, vigilanza


(wotʃ) noun
1. a small instrument for telling the time by, worn on the wrist or carried in the pocket of a waistcoat etc. He wears a gold watch; a wrist-watch.
2. a period of standing guard during the night. I'll take the watch from two o'clock till six.
3. in the navy etc, a group of officers and men who are on duty at a given time. The night watch come(s) on duty soon.
1. to look at (someone or something). He was watching her carefully; He is watching television.
2. to keep a lookout (for). They've gone to watch for the ship coming in; Could you watch for the postman?
3. to be careful of (someone or something). Watch (that) you don't fall off!; Watch him! He's dangerous.
4. to guard or take care of. Watch the prisoner and make sure he doesn't escape; Please watch the baby while I go shopping.
5. to wait for (a chance, opportunity etc). Watch your chance, and then run.
ˈwatcher noun
ˈwatchful adjective
alert and cautious. watchful eyes; If you are watchful you will not be robbed.
ˈwatchfully adverb
ˈwatchfulness noun
ˈwatchdog noun
a dog which guards someone's property etc. We leave a watchdog in our office at night to scare away thieves.
ˈwatchmaker noun
a person who makes and repairs watches, clocks etc.
ˈwatchman noun
(often ˌnight-ˈwatchman) a man employed to guard a building etc against thieves, especially at night. The bank-robbers shot the (night-)watchman.
ˈwatchtower noun
an old word for a tower on which a lookout is posted.
ˈwatchword noun
a motto or slogan used by members of a group of people who think (or act) alike. Let freedom be our watchword!
keep watch
to be on guard. He kept watch while the other soldiers slept.
watch one's step
to be careful what one does or says. He's in a bad mood, so watch your step and don't say anything wrong!
watch out (with for)
to be careful (of). Watch out for the cars!; Watch out! The police are coming!
watch over
to guard or take care of. The mother bird is watching over her young.
References in classic literature ?
But watchfulness prevented any accident, and eventually the party reached the place where they had left their goods.
Major Heyward was mistaken only in suffering his youthful and generous pride to suppress his active watchfulness.
She laughed, but her eyes sought her sister's with a certain watchfulness of expression.
It was evident that the race had degenerated, like many a noble race besides, in consequence of too strict a watchfulness to keep it pure.
After her return to the prison, Hester Prynne was found to be in a state of nervous excitement, that demanded constant watchfulness, lest she should perpetrate violence on herself, or do some half-frenzied mischief to the poor babe.
Her motions were almost as quick as those of a practised conjurer, and her command of her face quite as great; and though Miss Ophelia could not help feeling that so many accidents could not possibly happen in succession, yet she could not, without a watchfulness which would leave her no time for anything else, detect her.
They stimulate him to greater watchfulness, and enhance his power to capture his slave.
But if she DID, the letter was written and sent away with a privacy which eluded all her watchfulness to ascertain the fact.
There was nothing revealed by the many eyes that looked at him but watchfulness and eagerness; there was no visible menacing or anger.
We had a merry game, not made the less merry by the Doctor's mistakes, of which he committed an innumerable quantity, in spite of the watchfulness of the butterflies, and to their great aggravation.
Also, by the time Eppie was three years old, she developed a fine capacity for mischief, and for devising ingenious ways of being troublesome, which found much exercise, not only for Silas's patience, but for his watchfulness and penetration.
And let no one fancy that the author was at all astray when he compared the friendship of these animals to that of men; for men have received many lessons from beasts, and learned many important things, as, for example, the clyster from the stork, vomit and gratitude from the dog, watchfulness from the crane, foresight from the ant, modesty from the elephant, and loyalty from the horse.