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


count, tale, tally

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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

The administration could have offered a different rationale, but a deadline for printing the census forms was rapidly approaching, and the Trump administration had no options but to delete the question. Ella Nilsen, Vox, "House votes to hold AG Barr and Commerce Secretary Ross in contempt of Congress over census citizenship question," 17 July 2019 News outlets did not mince words on Thursday when describing Trump walking back earlier promises to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census form. Oliver Darcy, CNN, "News outlets prep for Tropical Storm Barry," 12 July 2019 The news conference comes as two federal judges refused to let the Department of Justice withdraw lawyers from a lawsuit over the Trump administration's plans to put the citizenship question on the 2020 census form. Allan Smith, NBC News, "Trump expected to order citizenship question added to the census," 11 July 2019 But the next morning—with census forms already rolling out of printers without the citizenship query—Mr Trump tweeted that the demise of the question had been greatly exaggerated. S.m. | New York, The Economist, "The Trump administration scrambles to add citizenship to the census," 9 July 2019 The chances of a citizenship question making its way onto next year’s federal census forms appear low to Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin. Katie Lannan, BostonGlobe.com, "Galvin bets — and hopes — that 2020 Census won’t include a citizenship question," 8 July 2019 The Trump administration repeatedly argued the census forms could not be altered after June 30. Jill Colvin, Twin Cities, "US to pursue citizenship question on census but path unclear," 5 July 2019 Trump's options seemed limited: The government faces printing deadlines for printing and distributing census forms. Richard Wolf, USA TODAY, "President Trump sows confusion over census plans and addition of a citizenship question," 3 July 2019 In light of the Supreme Court's ruling, the government had no choice but to proceed with printing the 2020 census forms without a citizenship question. Anchorage Daily News, "2020 Census will not include citizenship question, DOJ confirms," 2 July 2019

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

21 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for census

The first known use of census was in 1634

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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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Comments on census

What made you want to look up census? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something desired as essential

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