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(The Pardoner's Wallet By Samuel McChord Crothers)

This might be a silly question, however, I can't decide whether these 2 words mean the same thing. Observant means one who's quick to notice things, while "observing" is the act of being watchful, however, I've heard people use "observing" to mean "observant" way more often than the latter. I hardly ever hear "observant" as an adjective. Maybe it's one of those odd word pairs such as "deservant" and "deserving". I've heard "deservant" just as often as "deserving" even though "deservant" is obsolete and incorrect. What do you guys think?

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    Can you give an example of how people use "observing" to mean "observant". Ideally an example from a text. While not rare, "observing" is not a common word, and I'm a little surprised that you've heard it often enough to make a comparison. I can't think of an example and a websearch doesn't find modern examples of "observing" being used to mean "observant".
    – James K
    Feb 5, 2022 at 5:35
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    Just updated the question. I've found it in a few old books and articles on google, however, it's very clear to me now that it isn't the first option when it comes to speaking formally or writing texts. It is also very surprising to me that I thought of that word as the right one and trained my ears to ignore the proper use of the word, otherwise, however else would I have confused these two words? :)
    – Kaique
    Feb 5, 2022 at 6:32

1 Answer 1


"Observing" is the present participle of "observe". In modern use, it is not used to mean "observant" (except as an error). The sense used by McChord Crothers is obsolete.

This is different from "deserving" which is also an adjective (as well as the participle of a verb). "Deservant" is not used in modern English.

He is an observant student and deserving of a high grade.

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