observance, observation
These two words correspond to different branches in meaning of the verb observe (‘to see or notice’ and ‘to follow or adhere to’). Observance is the word normally used in connection with respecting rules, carrying out duties and obligations, and performing formal customs and rituals, whereas observation is the equivalent in the more physical senses of seeing and perceiving, has the special countable meaning ‘a remark or comment’, and is used in special combinations such as observation car (on a train, chiefly AmE) and (military) observation post. Examples:

• To act on or defy a socially established rule has effects on all who benefit or suffer by its observance —A. C. Graham, 1985

• Edinburgh can offer ethnically-based social facilities and opportunities for meetings for several forms of non-Christian religious observance —undergraduate prospectus, 1993

• I didn't try to go into details on the phone, but said that we were going to need some police observation —J. R. L. Anderson, 1980

• The playgroup leader will usually offer her observations as part of the parents' contribution to the Statement —W. Swann et al., 1992.

Modern English usage. 2014.

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  • observance — [ ɔpsɛrvɑ̃s ] n. f. • XIIIe; lat. observantia 1 ♦ Action d observer habituellement, de pratiquer une règle en matière religieuse; obéissance (à la règle). ⇒ observation, 1. pratique. « L observance de la loi du Seigneur » (Massillon). (Règle non… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Observance — Ob*serv ance, n. [F. observance, L. observantia. See {Observant}.] 1. The act or practice of observing or noticing with attention; a heeding or keeping with care; performance; usually with a sense of strictness and fidelity; as, the observance of …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • observance — Observance. s. f. v. Pratique de la Regle d un Ordre Religieux. L observance de la Regle. l estroite observance. Religieux du Tiers Ordre de S. François de l estroite observance …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • observance — (n.) early 13c., act performed in accordance with prescribed usage, especially a religious or ceremonial one, from O.Fr. observance, from L. observantia act of keeping customs, attention, from observantem (nom. observans), prp. of observare (see… …   Etymology dictionary

  • observance — Observance, f. penac. Obseruantia, Obseruatio. Ancienne observance, Disciplina. Venir contre la commune observance et coustume d un peuple, A consuetudine alicuius populi discedere. Observation, f. acut. Obseruatio …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • observance — [n1] attention to, knowledge of something acknowledgment, acquittal, acquittance, adherence, awareness, carrying out, celebration, cognizance, compliance, discharge, fidelity, fulfillment, heed, heeding, honoring, keeping, mark, mind, note,… …   New thesaurus

  • observance — [əb zʉrv′əns] n. [ME observaunce < OFr observance < L observantia, attention, regard, in LL(Ec), divine worship] 1. the act or practice of observing, or keeping, a law, duty, custom, rule, etc. 2. a customary act, rite, ceremony, etc. 3.… …   English World dictionary

  • observance — index acquiescence, adherence (devotion), allegiance, ceremony, compliance, conformity (obedience) …   Law dictionary

  • observance — ► NOUN 1) compliance with the requirements of law, morality, or ritual. 2) (observances) acts performed for religious or ceremonial reasons …   English terms dictionary

  • observance — (ob sèr van s ) s. f. 1°   Pratique d une règle en matière religieuse. •   Les bons princes n avaient qu à faire observer la loi de Moïse, et se contentaient d en recommander l observance à leurs successeurs, BOSSUET Hist. II, 3. •   L homme ne… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

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