Are the two words "Spotted" and "Sighted" interchangeable in all contexts?

For instance, are both "Enemy spotted" and "Enemy sighted" correct and used in the military?

  • Include the relevant research you've done. The words in the question are probably not interchangeable in all contexts as no two words are.
    – user71740
    Commented Jun 28, 2018 at 10:58

2 Answers 2


To spot something means to determine its spot (it means something like a "speck" https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spot).

To sight something means to be able to see it (Old English for "to see" https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sight).

So... there is no real pronounced difference between the two, but if I had to differentiate, I would say that "sight" implies that you had no necessary expectation that you would find something in the first place, and you are declaring that it is now within vision. Whereas, "spot" implies that you might have known the object was coming or in the area, and now you know where it is. But this would be a supercilious distinction in most cases.


They are not universally interchangeable. Sighted tends to be used in more formal contexts such as the military example or in print. Spotted is the more common colloquial usage.

Example where sighted would feel awkward:

I had spent hours searching for the missing piece when I finally spotted it under the chair.

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