cen·sus | \ˈsen(t)-səs \

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

Their population has just hit a 30-year low, according to an annual census. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Pacific Northwest Orca Population Hits 30-Year-Low," 10 July 2018 Researchers have slowly chipped away at that gap by adding to the census all the hot, diffuse gas in the enormous halos of galaxies and even larger galaxy clusters. Amina Khan, latimes.com, "After years of searching, scientists can finally account for all the normal matter in the universe," 20 June 2018 According to the 2010 census, Uighurs account for 46% of the province’s population and Han Chinese 40% (the rest are smaller minorities such as Kazakhs and Kirgiz). The Economist, "China has turned Xinjiang into a police state like no other," 31 May 2018 But opponents say the question will discourage immigrants from responding to the census. Time, "California Threatens to Sue Over Citizenship Census Question," 27 Mar. 2018 Most of the counties in the nation gained population, 57% in 2017 compared with 53% in 2016, according to the census. Kristi Tanner, Detroit Free Press, "Fewer people are leaving Wayne County, census data show," 22 Mar. 2018 But additional evidence could cast doubt on that explanation and potentially lay the groundwork for the question’s removal from the 2020 census. Michael Wines, New York Times, "Why Was a Citizenship Question Put on the Census? ‘Bad Faith,’ a Judge Suggests," 10 July 2018 Compounding this fact is that the 2020 census will largely be done online. Melissa Etehad, latimes.com, "The 2020 census could undercount 1 million kids — which means less money for California schools," 9 July 2018 In Colorado, for instance, construction firms now increasingly make more hires from outside the industry than from within, according to the census. Eric Morath, WSJ, "In This Economy, Quitters Are Winning," 4 July 2018

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 Oct 2018

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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 \

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).


not any or not one

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