sur·​veil·​lance | \sər-ˈvā-lən(t)s also -ˈvāl-yən(t)s or -ˈvā-ən(t)s \

Definition of surveillance 

: close watch kept over someone or something (as by a detective) also : supervision

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Examples of surveillance in a Sentence

government surveillance of suspected terrorists The bank robbery was recorded by surveillance video cameras.

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Video surveillance shows Wilson and the youth getting out of a vehicle at the hotel and then exiting an elevator together on the seventh floor, Donovan wrote. Ryan Tarinelli, Fox News, "Owner of 3D-printed gun company accused of sex with minor," 19 Sep. 2018 Republicans have argued that the dossier was inappropriately used by the Justice Department before the election as investigators obtained a warrant to put one of Trump’s campaign advisers under surveillance. Mary Clare Jalonick, The Seattle Times, "Head of firm behind Trump dossier won’t talk to House panel," 16 Oct. 2018 When the trips home continued, the inspector general’s office put Mr. Long under surveillance and tailed him back to North Carolina, the people said. Michael C. Bender, WSJ, "Probe of FEMA Chief Brock Long Referred to Prosecutors," 17 Sep. 2018 Could this tie into themes from the BTS photos about being trapped, or being constantly under surveillance? Allie Gemmill, Teen Vogue, "BTS Fans Think a Manga Called "The Promised Neverland" Contains Clues to "Love Yourself: Answer"," 15 Aug. 2018 Police are currently looking for surveillance video of the incident. Sam Dangremond, Town & Country, "Someone Vandalized Betsy DeVos's $40-Million Yacht," 26 July 2018 Lost in the legalistic view is any sense of the ethical consequences of going through life under constant surveillance. Nicholas Carr,, "Is Facebook the problem with Facebook, or is it us?," 10 July 2018 Under radio surveillance, the bugs were fairly inactive, scuttling an average of only 12.5 feet at a time. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "How Tiny Trackers Could Help Humans Avoid Kissing Bugs’ Deadly Smooch," 9 July 2018 However, that alone was not enough for an arrest, so the DJ was put under surveillance. Alexia Fernandez,, "Wedding DJ Arrested for the Brutal 1992 Rape and Murder of School Teacher Christy Mirack," 26 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'surveillance.' 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 surveillance

1802, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for surveillance

French, from surveiller to watch over, from sur- + veiller to watch, from Old French veillier, from Latin vigilare, from vigil watchful — more at vigil

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Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for surveillance

The first known use of surveillance was in 1802

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English Language Learners Definition of surveillance

: the act of carefully watching someone or something especially in order to prevent or detect a crime


sur·​veil·​lance | \sər-ˈvā-lən(t)s also -ˈvāl-yən(t)s or -ˈvā-ən(t)s\

Medical Definition of surveillance 

: close and continuous observation or testing serological surveillance — see immunological surveillance

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Comments on surveillance

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the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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