I'm looking for a word that refers to what a witness would see. I considered 'observation', but I'm looking for something more pointed and implying focus. Does such a word exist? Many thanks!

  • 1
    Usually witnesses observe an incident
    – Jim
    Oct 8, 2015 at 16:18
  • "Eyewitness account" is the usual idiom for a report of what a witness saw.
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 8, 2015 at 16:33
  • @HotLicks- The "account" is the witnesses testimony or description of the thing they say. I think OP is asking for the name of "the thing they saw" not their account of it.
    – Jim
    Oct 8, 2015 at 17:05
  • If you tell more about the context, you may perhaps get better solutions. For example, phenomenon, a fact, occurrence, or circumstance observed or observable, would be appropriate (looking at weather events) or not (witness of a crime).
    – Graffito
    Oct 8, 2015 at 17:23

4 Answers 4


A witness sees an occurrence

  • "something that happens"

an action.

  • "a thing done"

or an incident, as mentioned in a comment.

  • "an unexpected and usually unpleasant thing that happens"

Although a witness does observe, an observer does not always witness. According to Hindu philosophy, a witness is described as one "who is here to observe and enjoy this world of objects, unending perceptions and wonderful creations, without becoming attached to them" (Jayaram V, Hinduwebsite.com). This suggests a personal relationship between the observer and that which is observed or witnessed.

As such, a witness not only observes, but perceives, which suggests awareness and appreciation of what is being seen. So, perhaps Perception would mean more than Observation in your context.

  • 1
    But perception has more to do with how "the thing they saw" was interpreted by the witness rather than being a name for "the thing they saw" itself.
    – Jim
    Oct 8, 2015 at 17:07
  • @Jim You are right, but isn't that the problem with any witness observation. Their perspective may be different from another witness simply by their physical location at the time of observation. Even two witnesses standing side by side may notice the event differently from one another. Perspective may not be what the OP is looking for, but the request was for another, stronger word for observation and this is the only one that came to mind. Thanks for your comment.
    – Katherine
    Oct 8, 2015 at 18:43

One could ask a person if they witnessed the event.


If a witness happens to be where a crime (defined as criminal activity) is committed, he/she will see a crime (being committed) or a crime scene and they are broadly used.

Scene is defined in Merriam-Webster as:

a part of a play, movie, story, etc., in which a particular action or activity occurs

The drama, CSI, stands for Crime Scene Investigation and the actors investigate a crime scene.

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