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 company with a $114 million contract to print census questionnaires had been instructed to start printing forms without the citizenship question. Washington Post, "Trump says officials working on holiday on census dispute," 4 July 2019 The Trump administration has abruptly given up its fight over a citizenship question on next year’s census, switching course in an unusual retreat. Julia Wick, latimes.com, "Essential California: The ice cream truck vs. the influencers," 3 July 2019 But far less attention has been paid to other issues that could threaten the census’s accuracy. Chris Hamby, New York Times, "Hacking, Glitches, Disinformation: Why Experts Are Worried About the 2020 Census," 3 July 2019 Hulett participated in a conference call Tuesday with the judge and lawyers for both sides in the census citizenship case. Mark Sherman, The Mercury News, "Trump says he is ‘absolutely moving forward’ with census question," 3 July 2019 Similar battles between the House and the administration are being fought on multiple fronts, including the Mueller investigation and the census citizenship question. Catherine Kim, Vox, "Vox Sentences: Hero or pirate?," 3 July 2019 The report published Sunday details the company’s advertising targeting practices, elections and census plans, and a civil rights accountability structure in addition to its approach to content moderation and enforcement. Louise Matsakis, WIRED, "Facebook’s New Content Moderation Tools Put Posts in Context," 3 July 2019 Using artificial intelligence, Facebook plans to ban false descriptions of census requirements and methods. Kristin Lam, USA TODAY, "Facebook aims to prevent census misinformation after criticism for voter suppression ads," 30 June 2019 This came to light after the census case was briefed and argued, and thus could not factor into the court’s decision. S.m. | New York, The Economist, "The Supreme Court blocks a citizenship question on the 2020 census," 28 June 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

7 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

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).


to form ideas or theories about something

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