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[uh b-zur-vuh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /əbˈzɜr vəˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/
noun, plural observatories.
a place or building equipped and used for making observations of astronomical, meteorological, or other natural phenomena, especially a place equipped with a powerful telescope for observing the planets and stars.
an institution that controls or carries on the work of such a place.
a place or structure that provides an extensive view; lookout.
Origin of observatory
1670-80; < Latin observā(re) to observe + -tory2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for observatory
  • The result is an image that is sharper than what a ground-based observatory could produce.
  • Maintenance of ocean observatory platforms is extremely expensive and prohibitive to deployment.
  • Adaptive optics put the observatory at the cutting edge.
  • The pace of extrasolar planet discovery is about to explode, thanks to a new space-based observatory.
  • He had a library and an observatory built next to the cathedral.
British Dictionary definitions for observatory


/əbˈzɜːvətərɪ; -trɪ/
noun (pl) -ries
an institution or building specially designed and equipped for observing meteorological and astronomical phenomena
any building or structure providing an extensive view of its surroundings
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for observatory

"building for observing astronomical phenomena," 1670s (in reference to Greenwich), from French observatoire, from observer (v.); see observe.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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