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[woch-fuh l] /ˈwɒtʃ fəl/
vigilant or alert; closely observant:
The sentry remained watchful throughout the night.
Archaic. wakeful.
Origin of watchful
1540-50; watch + -ful
Related forms
watchfully, adverb
watchfulness, noun
self-watchfulness, noun
unwatchful, adjective
unwatchfully, adverb
unwatchfulness, noun
1. attentive, heedful, careful, circumspect, cautious, wary. See alert. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for watchfulness
Historical Examples
  • It took not only strength, but watchfulness and experience to hold the course in the welter of cross-seas.

    A Man to His Mate J. Allan Dunn
  • He trusted in his own watchfulness, and in the fidelity of Curran to keep her in humor.

    The Art of Disappearing John Talbot Smith
  • His manner lost little of its watchfulness, and his voice was surly with defiance when he spoke.

    Good Indian B. M. Bower
  • The fellow did not seem to be overly anxious to keep his watchfulness a secret.

    Boy Scouts in the Canal Zone G. Harvey Ralphson
  • A certain Wolf could not get enough to eat because of the watchfulness of the Shepherds.

  • Was it fancy that an expression of watchfulness had come into the gay eyes?

    The Independence of Claire Mrs. George de Horne Vaizey
  • They left this place June 6, but notwithstanding all their watchfulness and vigilance, 201 no passage could be found.

  • With some dryness, she preached energy, watchfulness, and a hopeful mind.

    The Coryston Family Mrs. Humphry Ward
  • "I will try, Sire," Crillon answered, abandoning for the first time his attitude of watchfulness.

    In Kings' Byways Stanley J. Weyman
  • It was the hush of portent, the hush of watchfulness, the hush of a threatening tension.

    The Law-Breakers Ridgwell Cullum
British Dictionary definitions for watchfulness


vigilant or alert
(archaic) not sleeping
Derived Forms
watchfully, adverb
watchfulness, noun
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 watchfulness



c.1500, waccheful, from watch (v.) + -ful. Related: Watchfulness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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