I'm looking for a synonym for observee, i.e. something that is observed. The word observee doesn't seem be used much, so I would like to have a more common word if it exists.

I need to use it in a very abstract sense, so my example sentence doesn't get more concrete than this: "The observer watched the observee very closely."

  • 1
    The observed.
    – Lawrence
    Feb 1, 2016 at 13:00
  • 13
    subject might work
    – CDM
    Feb 1, 2016 at 13:02
  • 2
    Target, Object (of observation). You need to include some context. There could be many words including person of interest.
    – user140086
    Feb 1, 2016 at 14:23
  • @sumelic single word. Subject seems to be the most fitting until now.
    – chtenb
    Feb 1, 2016 at 21:55
  • Have a look here. Feb 4, 2016 at 11:40

3 Answers 3


You may be able to reuse some terminology from software world here.

There is a standard software design pattern called Observer and its terminology may help. Quoting wikipedia:

The observer pattern is a software design pattern in which an object, called the subject, maintains a list of its dependents, called observers, and notifies them automatically of any state changes, usually by calling one of their methods.

Also there is a Observable interface which may be implemented by observable objects. Quoting its description:

An observable object can have one or more observers.

[I know subject was a previous answer but I think this was too long as a comment.]

  • 1
    Merriam-Webster gives observable as a noun. Although it means something which can be observable, in many contexts that is equivalent to something which is observed (e.g. if you're talking about the observer-observable relationship in the abstract).
    – Stuart F
    Mar 16, 2022 at 14:20

I think the suggestion of subject that was given to you in a comment is probably best, but you could also go with specimen.


Videndum is defined as "the thing which is to be seen" (here).

Observandum is defined as "a thing to be observed" (here).

If you want to stick to the strict Latin and need "the thing observed," or "the object of the observation," you might go with @TimLymington's suggestion in the comments below of observatum.

They are somewhat archaic but would work well in a technical or academic setting.

  • 2
    There is an important distinction between ' the thing observed' and ' the thing to be observed'. If you really want this, it would have to be observatum Feb 1, 2016 at 15:15
  • @TimLymington is right. I made an edit to include his suggestion.
    – DyingIsFun
    Feb 1, 2016 at 15:48

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