cen·​sus | \ ˈsen(t)-səs How to pronounce census (audio) \

Definition of census

1 : a count of the population and a property evaluation in early Rome
2 : a usually complete enumeration of a population specifically : a periodic governmental enumeration of population According to the latest U.S census, 16% of the population is of Hispanic or Latino origin.
3 : count, tally a census of deer in a game refuge

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Other Words from census

census transitive verb

Synonyms for census


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Examples of census in a Sentence

According to the latest census, the racial makeup of the town has changed dramatically in the last 50 years. a thorough census of all the grizzly bears living within the national park
Recent Examples on the Web As a result, Democrats opted to use population estimates from the American Community Survey, a product of the federal Census Bureau that is less accurate than the granular census count. Rick Pearson, chicagotribune.com, 4 June 2021 The statistic was revealed during an announcement on which states would gain or lose congressional seats in the next election based on the 2020 census count. Haley Victory Smith, Washington Examiner, 26 Apr. 2021 That legislation got rid of quota systems based on current U.S. census data. Caitlin Dwyer, Longreads, 29 May 2021 Even before the pandemic, one in seven residents of the Prince George’s County town was living in poverty, census data shows. Washington Post, 28 May 2021 Next year’s March primary election may be delayed until June because of a lag in U.S. census data needed to draw new state congressional districts, three sources familiar with the plan confirmed to the Tribune today. Lisa Donovan, chicagotribune.com, 28 May 2021 More recent census data shows population has fallen citywide since 2010. Billy Jean Louis, baltimoresun.com, 27 May 2021 Although Black and white residents each represent 46% of D.C.’s total population, according to 2019 U.S. census data, white people account for less than 10% of cases in recent days. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 27 May 2021 Using government temperature and census data, researchers examined the distribution of heat islands – parts of cities with higher average temperatures than the surrounding areas. Drew Costley, Star Tribune, 25 May 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'census.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of census

1634, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for census

borrowed from Latin cēnsus, from cēnsēre "to give as an opinion, assess, appraise, perform the duties of a censor" + -tus, suffix of verbal action — more at censor entry 1

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Statistics for census

Last Updated

13 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Census.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/census. Accessed 20 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for census



English Language Learners Definition of census

: the official process of counting the number of people in a country, city, or town and collecting information about them


cen·​sus | \ ˈsen-səs How to pronounce census (audio) \

Kids Definition of census

: a count of the number of people in a country, city, or town



Legal Definition of census

: a usually complete count of a population (as of a state) especially : a periodic governmental count of a population that usually includes social and economic information (as occupations, ages, and incomes)


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