To watch carefully or note for a scientific or special purpose, e.g. to observe
a star (astronomy), to observe the behavior of a patient (medicine, psychology),
an animal (ethology, zoology), social groups (sociology), etc.
From O.Fr. observer, from L. observare "watch over, look to,
attend to, guard," from ob "over" + servare "to watch, keep safe,"
from PIE base *ser- "to protect;" cf. Av. har- "to guard, observe, pay attention
to," haraiti "guards, keeps," harətar- "protector, watcher,"
harəθra- "guarding, protection," hāra- "watched, guarded,"
Mod.Pers. zinhâr "beware!, mind!," Gk. heros
Note 1: Observation is the most important basis of empirical sciences. All theories
rely on observation, and must finally be supported by observational evidence.
Persian, in contrast to European languages, lacks a distinct term that recognizes observation
as a conceptual premise of sciences.
In astronomy the Ar. rasad (رصد) is currently used, while in classical
astronomical texts the Pers. pâyidan
(پاییدن) is used mainly by prominent figures like Biruni and Tusi.
However, the term rasad is never used for cases outside astronomy.
The situation for other sciences is
not clear. Often one resorts to the Ar. loanword mošâhedé
"to look at each other," which lacks ability to form derivatives. Therefore,
here we suggest a term that can be used in all fields of knowledge.
Nepâhian, from ne- + pâhidan.
The prefix ne- "down; into" (as in negâh "look, glance,"
negaristan "to view, look at," nešastan "to sit down,"
nemudan "to display") from O.Pers./Av. ni- "down, into;" cf.
Skt. ni "down," nitaram "downward," Gk. neiothen "from below,"
cf. E. nether, O.E. niþera, neoþera "down, downward, below, beneath," from
P.Gmc. *nitheraz, Du. neder, Ger. nieder;
PIE *ni- "down, below."
The second component pâhidan, variants pâyidan, pâsidan
"to watch, observe, look steadily;"
Mid.Pers. pây- "to protect, guard;" Sogdian p'y "to observe, protect, watch
over;" O.Pers. pā- "to protect," pāta- "protected;"
Av. pā- "to protect," pāti "guards,"
nipā(y)- (with ni-) "to watch, observe, guard,"
nipātar- "protector, watcher," nipāθri- "protectress;"
cf. Skt. pā- "to protect, keep," tanû.pā- "protecting
the body," paś.pā- "shepherd;" Gk. poma "lid, cover,"
poimen "shepherd;" L. pascere "to put out to graze," pastor
"shepherd;" Lith. piemuo "shepherd;" PIE base *pā- "to protect, feed."
Note 2: Since pây-, pâyidan is used for
we adopt the variant pâh-, pâhidan, which is extant in Lâri and
Gerâši dialects; cf.
Gilaki pâstan, pâssan "to guard, pay attention."
In fact the interchange of phonemes h, i and s is not rare in
Note 3: Examples of pâyidan "to observe" in astronomy, from Biruni's
al-Tafhim (written c. 1029 A.D.)
p. 313: و بپای ارتفاع آ فتاب را.
p. 64: و بپای تا بدایره اندر آید.
Note 4: As indicated above, nepâh- exists in Av. as nipāy-
"to watch, protect."