cen·​sus ˈsen(t)-səs How to pronounce census (audio)
: a count of the population and a property evaluation in early Rome
: 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.
: count, tally
a census of deer in a game refuge
census transitive verb

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 One recent sign of progress is that the city’s shelter census has dropped from a peak of 15,700 at the end of last year to 7,800 last week. A.d. Quig, Chicago Tribune, 12 May 2024 Trump abandoned plans to add a citizenship question to the census after a multistate lawsuit that included California. Noah Bierman, Los Angeles Times, 10 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for census 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'census.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1634, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of census was in 1634

Dictionary Entries Near census

Cite this Entry

“Census.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/census. Accessed 19 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


cen·​sus ˈsen(t)-səs How to pronounce census (audio)
: a counting of the population (as of a country, city, or town) and a gathering of related statistics done by a government every so often

Legal Definition


: 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)

More from Merriam-Webster on census

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